Curcumin belongs to a family of chemical compounds known as curcuminoids, which is the principal bioactive component of turmeric that gives this spice its distinctive yellow color. You’ll find curcumin is frequently used in many Indian and Thai cuisine, adding a bright, appetizing color and deep flavor to many dishes.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties have gained a good deal of attention in recent years as modern medicine looks to this mainstay of centuries-old practices as a possible aid in the fight against neurodegenerative disease and aging. As mentioned in an article in Psychology Today, “animal studies consistently show benefit of curcumin in reversing cognitive decline at the behavioral as well as the molecular level.” And curcumin compounds have been identified as exerting neuroprotective effects, blocking a specific cascade of inflammatory action in microglia, which primarily function as immune defense cells in our nervous system. In one particular study, scientists found that “curcumin inhibited the release of a protein known to kindle inflammation and lead to tissue damage associated with memory impairment. A number of inflammatory cascades are believed to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.”
Other research has focused on how curcumin may be instrumental in improving certain brain processes. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted over 18 months with the supplement Theracurmin® found that in patients who did have identified dementia, this bioavailable form of curcumin “led to significant attention and memory benefits.”1 Additionally, the FDDNP-PET scans performed pre- and post-treatment suggested that these behavioral and cognitive benefits are associated with decreases in plaque and tangle accumulation in brain regions modulating mood and memory. These findings led scientists to posit that curcumin’s cognitive benefits may stem from its anti-inflammatory and/or anti-amyloid brain effects.
Every day, science is gaining more understanding about how certain foods and dietary programs as well as specific supplements can truly enhance our health in so many ways. But before you make any nutritional changes or add anything new, especially if you are taking prescribed medications, always discuss it with your physician! You can learn more about diet and brain health and the role of inflammation in disease at: https://www.suzannegazdamd.com/blog/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut and be sure to search our blog library for additional related articles.
Dr. Suzanne Gazda
1 Gary W. Small, Prabha Siddarth, Zhaoping Li, Karen J. Miller, Linda Ercoli, Natacha D. Emerson, Jacqueline Martinez, Koon-Pong Wong, Jie Liu, David A. Merrill, Stephen T. Chen, Susanne M. Henning, Nagichettiar Satyamurthy, Sung-Cheng Huang, David Heber, Jorge R. Barrio. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Volume 26, Issue 3, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2017.10.010.
Dr. Suzanne Gazda, Integrative Neurology