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Curcumin May Help Improve Memory: Other Potential Health Benefits Of This Turmeric Compound

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Curcumin, the most active substance of turmeric is commonly used in Indian cooking as spice. It is also used in mustard, butter, and cheese. Findings of a new study have revealed that it may help improve memory and mood.

Curcumin Linked To Improvements In Memory And Mood

In a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry on Jan. 19, Gary Small, from UCLA's Longevity Center, and fellow researchers found that giving 90 milligrams of curcumin daily improved the memory and mood of older adults with mild memory complaints.

The researchers also found less signals of tau and amyloid proteins in those who were given curcumin supplements. These proteins are linked to the development of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Exactly how curcumin may exert cognitive and mood effects is not certain, but several potential mechanisms could explain our findings," researchers wrote in their study. "Curcumin reduces inflammation, and heightened brain inflammation has been linked to both Alzheimer disease and major depression."

Other Potential Health Benefits Of Curcumin

Countries such as India, where people eat curcumin at levels of about 100 mg to 200 mg a day over long periods of time, have low prevalence of cancer. Researchers suspect this may have something to do with the health benefits of turmeric.

Earlier studies have shown other possible beneficial effects of consuming curcumin on health.

In a 2001 study involving patients with precancerous changes, investigators found that curcumin could stop precancerous changes in organs from developing into cancer.

"Our results also suggest a biologic effect of curcumin in the chemoprevention of cancer," the researchers wrote in their study.

Lab tests also showed that turmeric extract that contains curcumin may help stabilize colorectal cancer that did not benefit from other forms of treatment.

Other preliminary lab studies also suggest that turmeric may provide protection against high cholesterol, colitis, stomach ulcers, diabetes, depression, and viral infections.

More Studies Needed To Confirm Health Benefits Of Curcumin And Turmeric

Health experts, however, caution that most of these studies were conducted in laboratory settings or involved limited number of human participants. This means that further studies are still needed to conclude the health benefits of turmeric.

"Until there are more high quality randomised controlled trials conducted to confirm the benefits of curcumin or turmeric, it's best to consume turmeric orally as a spice as part of a healthy, nutritious diet," Gunveen Kaur, a lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at Deakin University advised.

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