New research confirms that turmeric is more than a fiery spice used in Indian food – it’s an anti-aging food as well. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has been shown to help clear away the brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reports that recent research using a combination of vitamin D and curcumin offers new possibilities in the treatment of AD. The research, conducted by UCLA and the Human Biomolecular Research Institute, focused on boosting the immune system in an effort to clear away plaque buildup in the brains of AD patients.
The study tested both natural and synthetic forms of curcumin in combination with vitamin D3. It was discovered that that administered together, the nutrients worked in tandem to clear away brain plaque.
The curcuminoids enhanced the binding of the plaque material to macrophages, which are cells that act as the immune system’s “clean up crew”. Macrophages circulate through the body, binding to and absorbing waste products including the beta amyloid proteins that turn into plaque in the brains of AD patients. The vitamin D strongly stimulated the macrophages’ ability to absorb the beta amyloid and other waste products.
Synthetic curcumin was found to be more effective than natural curcumin, the researchers said, noting that the natural form was less readily absorbed and tended to break down more quickly. New forms of synthetic curcumin could improve therapeutic efficacy, they added, stressing that while the results were extremely positive, more research is needed before the vitamin D-curcumin combo can be considered a reliable therapy or treatment for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease one of the most common and devastating of all age-related illnesses. More than 4 million people in the US have the deadly and progressive brain disorder, which impairs memory, cognitive function, and physical ability. Though symptoms differ, Alzheimer’s is characterized by a degree of dementia, which is defined as intellectual impairment significant enough to have an adverse impact on daily activities and social interactions. Alzheimer’s is the number one cause of dementia in people over 60. In the past 25 years the number of people with Alzheimer’s has doubled and the incidence of the disease is expected to increase rapidly over the coming years as the baby boom generation ages. Though research is discovering more clues to the puzzle of Alzheimer’s, it remains frustratingly mysterious. No cause has been identified, and though there are some drugs that are thought to slow its progression, as yet there is no cure.