Turmeric is more than just a spice.
Multiple studies have revealed that turmeric and its central constituent, curcumin, may help prevent and even treat nerve cell and brain cell disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a powder ground from a root utilized for medicinal purposes and spicing food for thousands of years. Recent research has established it has anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Now researchers are discovering that it helps protect against the accumulation of amyloid plaque among brain cells, and other causes of nerve and brain cell damage.
A new review of research from India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences reveals that curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect nerves from damage – this is called being “neuroprotective.” The researchers stated that, “different experimental models of Parkinson’s disease strongly support the clinical application of curcumin.”
Another study, this one from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, found that curcumin protects the brain’s cells from reactive oxygen species, and the A53T alpha-synuclein protein mutant, implicated in neuron damage found in both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The research also found that curcumin reduced mitochondrial damage among brain cells – another occurrence in Alzheimer’s.
In another recent study, this from India’s Central Food Technological Research Institute, researchers have found that curcumin-glucoside halts the formation of fibrils among nerve cells by binding to alpha-synuclein proteins. When this protein is expressed outside of the hippocampus and other inner brain regions, it can result in damage among brain cells.
Meanwhile, University of Kentucky researchers have found that curcumin reduced free radical oxidative stress damage among the brain and nerve cells, slowing down damage from and protecting against the progression of the build up of amyloid β-peptides (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangles among the brain and nerve cells – evident among Alzheimer’s disease patients.
In a 2011 study, medical researchers from Thailand’s Mahidol University found that curcumin prevents neurotoxicity by blocking 6-Hydroxydopamine damage to nerve and brain cells. This is the pathway said to occur among Parkinson’s disease patients.
These researchers also found that curcumin protected nerve cells from free radical damage, and inhibited the p53 cell-death sequence following brain cell phosphorylation – another progression found in Parkinson’s.
These and other studies all point to one general lesson: Turmeric helps protect the brain and nerves, and may well help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Learn more strategies to combat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s:
Svedberg MM, Rahman O, Hall H. Preclinical studies of potential amyloid binding PET/SPECT ligands in Alzheimer’s disease. Nucl Med Biol. 2012 Jan 4.
Mythri RB, Bharath MS. Curcumin: A Potential Neuroprotective Agent in Parkinson’s Disease. Curr Pharm Des. 2012 Jan 1.
Song JX, Sze SC, Ng TB, Lee CK, Leung GP, Shaw PC, Tong Y, Zhang YB. Anti-Parkinsonian drug discovery from herbal medicines: What have we got from neurotoxic models? J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Dec 29.
Gadad BS, Subramanya PK, Pullabhatla S, Shantharam IS, Rao KS. Curcumin-glucoside, A Novel Synthetic Derivative of Curcumin, Inhibits α-synuclein Oligomer in Parkinson’s Disease. Curr Pharm Des. 2012 Jan 1.
Mizwicki MT, Menegaz D, Zhang J, Barrientos-Durán A, Tse S, Cashman JR, Griffin PR, Fiala M. Genomic and Nongenomic Signaling Induced by 1α,25(OH)2-Vitamin D3 Promotes the Recovery of Amyloid-β Phagocytosis by Alzheimer’s Disease Macrophages. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011 Dec 29.
Mythri RB, Harish G, Dubey SK, Misra K, Bharath MM. Glutamoyl diester of the dietary polyphenol curcumin offers improved protection against peroxynitrite-mediated nitrosative stress and damage of brain mitochondria in vitro: implications for Parkinson’s disease. Mol Cell Biochem. 2011 Jan;347(1-2):135-43.
Wang MS, Boddapati S, Emadi S, Sierks MR. Curcumin reduces alpha-synuclein induced cytotoxicity in Parkinson’s disease cell model. BMC Neurosci. 2010 Apr 30;11:57.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.