Curcumin : A “Brain” Nutrient ?

January 31, 2002

The diverse health benefits of the “curry spice” curcumin are well documented. Valued as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin is currently being tested as an anti-cancer drug by the NIH.

Extracted from the roots of Curcuma longa (turmeric), natural “curcumin” is essentially a mixture of three related compounds; curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin, collectively termed “curcuminoids”.

A recent study provided clues to earlier observations that elderly people living in villages in India appeared to have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease globally. Only 1% of those aged 65 and older experienced the gradual erosion of memory and cognition, characteristic of the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the build up of beta-amyloid protein plaques in the brain, that are believed to be responsible for the decline in memory, as they clog the synapses that connect individual brain cells. Many of the destructive effects of beta-amyloid protein are reported to arise through oxidative damage and inflammation.

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