Turmeric Curry May Keep Alzheimer's at Bay

By Heartspring Staff

A spice used for thousands of years, curry, may be a powerful new weapon in fighting Alzheimer's Disease, researchers said.

Researchers from UCLA and the Department of Veterans Affairs said their study of curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry, found it broke up existing beta amyloid on rats' brains and helped prevent accumulation of the destructive plaque.

Reporting in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the team said curcumin is more effective in stopping the protein fragments from forming than many other drugs being tested to treat the disease that affects 4 million Americans and millions more worldwide. "The prospect of finding a safe and effective new approach to both prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease is tremendously exciting," said Gregory Cole, the main UCLA investigator.

"Curcumin has been used for thousands of years as a safe anti-inflammatory in a variety of ailments as part of Indian traditional medicine," Cole said. Recent animal studies "support a growing interest in its possible use for diseases of aging involving oxidative damage and inflammation like Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease." Dr. Cole called for human trials of curcumin to establish safe and effective doses.

University of California in Los Angeles found that Alzheimer's disease involves amyloid (Abeta) accumulation, oxidative damage and inflammation, and risk is reduced with increased antioxidant and anti-inflammatory consumption. The phenolic yellow curry pigment curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities and can suppress oxidative damage, inflammation, cognitive deficits, and amyloid accumulation. Studies showed that curcumin injected peripherally into aged Tg mice, crossed the blood brain barrier and bound plaques. When fed to aged Tg2576 mice with advanced amyloid accumulation, curcumin labeled plaques and reduced amyloid levels and plaque burden. Hence, curcumin directly binds small ss-amyloid species to block aggregation and fibril formation in vitro and in vivo. These data suggest that low dose curcumin effectively disaggregates plaques as well as prevents fibril and oligomer formation, supporting the rationale for curcumin use in clinical trials preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease.

University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California revealed that epidemiological studies show reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease among patients using non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAID) indicating the role of inflammation in Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Research

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Standardized Curcumin (Turmeric)

Curcumin, the active constituent of the spice turmeric, is an antioxidant that may possess benefits for degenerative diseases. Curcumin has also shown a wide range of health-boosting properties, including support for inflammation relief and circulation.

In several studies, curcumin has shown increasing potential as an anti-cancer agent. Curcumin has previously displayed success in protecting against the development of colonic tumors in laboratory animals treated with colon cancer-inducing agents. In a study published in the Journal of Carcinogenesis, curcumin appeared to induce cellular arrest when added to human colon cancer cells. Other studies show that curcumin's anti-cancer effects appear to be due to its ability to induce apoptosis, a predetermined death of cells, as well as to arrest the cell cycle. Other published studies show that curcumin effectively inhibits cancer cell growth in human skin cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer cells. Large randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies need to be conducted in humans to prove benefits in cancer patients.

Curcumin may hold anti-inflammatory properties, as studies have shown that it may benefit joint function, while reducing inflammation and pain. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation by lowering histamine levels, while possibly increasing the production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands. This antioxidant has been used in rheumatoid arthritis trials, and was shown to display some benefits for reducing inflammation and symptoms such as pain and stiffness. And in a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutic Toxicology, curcumin was proven effective at easting post-surgical inflammation.

In studies, curcumin has displayed other health benefits. It has been shown to aid circulation, as it may reduce platelets from clumping together, and may defend against atherosclerosis.

Curcumin is also effective at shielding the liver from various toxic compounds. And one recent study showed that curcumin may have some benefit for cystic fibrosis.




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