Saturday, November 10, 2007

Spice curries favor with aging brains

My turmeric has arrived. No ethnic cooking with these 300 capsules of East Indian spice, however, because they're brain food for me. Every so often I come across research so compelling that I shut down the word processor and search the web for the best price on a priceless new product. And 150 days worth of turmeric for $9.00 at seems like a bargain. Here's why.

Alzheimer's disease causes the accumulation of an abnormal protein called beta amyloid (Abeta) in the brain. Great glumps of Abeta destroy brain cells, perhaps by setting off an inflammatory process in much the same way that cholesterol deposits lead to the destruction of blood vessel walls. Anti-amyloid agents theoretically could prevent this degenerative process.

Enter curcumin or turmeric, the yellow curry pigment which is already known to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists working on mouse brains (both inside and outside the mouse) found that curcumin was a potent inhibitor of Abeta aggregation. In other words, a dash of spice on a mucked-up mouse brain prevented little Abeta clumps from growing into big nasty plaques. Furthermore, Tg2576 mice--bred to be particularly susceptible to senility--with advanced amyloid guck in their brains actually reversed their Abeta plaques when Indian curry replaced their standard American chow.

The authors of this UCLA study published a few months ago in the Journal of Biological Chemistry concluded: "These data suggest that low dose curcumin effectively disaggregates Abeta... supporting the rationale for curcumin use in clinical trials preventing or treating AD." They are currently undertaking just that to see if curcumin can improve mental status in patients already affected by Alzheimer's disease.


Mauigirl said...

I've got to get me some of that. It seems to be good for just about everything!

FerdC said...

Excellent! I used to take something that really helped my memory... but I forget what that was.
I'll get right on that turmeric turday! Tanx!

Vijay said...

Interesting. Does the regular use of turmeric in our cooking explain the relatively low incidence of AD in the Indian subcontinent? Something to explore.