Tumeric is a common spice, but in the traditional Indian medical practice of Ayurveda, the substance has long been associated with a variety of healing and health properties.
Now a modern study from the labs of UCLA has given strong evidence that turmeric may have significant effects on the health of the human brain. Specifically, eating the spice every day may prevent or lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. In healthy people, it may significantly improve memory up to 28%.
The study was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The active ingredient in turmeric appears to be curcumin. It gives the spice its bright orange-yellow color. Curcumin is also found in curry.
It is well known that people in India favor turmeric and curry in their daily diets. Researchers have also long known that the senior citizens of India have far lower rates of Alzheimer’s and senile dementia. The curcumin connection seems too strong a correlation to ignore.
The recent turmeric study was led by Dr. Gary Small who the works at UCLA’s Longevity Center as director of geriatric psychiatry. He said that although the precise biological mechanism curcumin sparks to produce beneficial brain effects is not yet known, he suspects it lessens inflammation of the brain. Ayurvedic doctors have long used curcumin to treat other forms of inflammation, such as that associated with arthritis.
Other subjects in the UCLA curcumin study also reported improvements in mood and relief from depression. These subjective feelings are backed up the solid data of PET scans. The scans revealed significantly less amyloid and tau signals from the amygdala and hypothalamus compared to subjects who were given placebos.
What practitioners of Eastern medicines have known for centuries about turmeric and curry now has modern science to back it up.