Curcumin, the substance responsible for the bright color of the Indian curry, may improve memory and mood of people with mild age-related memory loss, findings of a new study have revealed.
Benefits Of Consuming Curcumin
In a new study, researchers looked at the effects of a curcumin supplement on memory. They also looked at curcumin's potential effect on the plaques and tangles in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Gary Small, from UCLA's Longevity Center, and colleagues randomly assigned 40 individuals between 50 and 90 years old with mild memory complaints to receive either 90 milligrams of curcumin every day or a placebo.
The participants received cognitive tests at the start of the study and every six months. Their blood was also monitored for curcumin levels at the beginning of the study and after 18 months. Some of the participants had PET scans to show levels of tau and amyloid in their brain. These two abnormal proteins are believed to trigger the development of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.
Researchers found that those who received curcumin had significant improvements in their attention abilities and memory. The participants who were given curcumin improved in their memory tests by 28 percent over a period of 18 months. They also had mild improvements in their mood.
PET scans likewise showed that those who consumed curcumin every day for 18 months had significantly less tau and amyloid signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus compared with those in the placebo group. The amygdala and hypothalamus are parts of the brain that control emotional and memory functions.
Curcumin Reduces Brain Inflammation
Lab studies have shown that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could be the reason behind the lower prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and better cognitive performance of older adults in India, where curcumin is a staple.
"Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inﬂammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer's disease and major depression," Small said.
Based on the results, the researchers concluded that daily consumption of curcumin supplement may offer cognitive and emotional benefits to seniors.
"Daily oral Theracurmin may lead to improved memory and attention in non-demented adults. The FDDNP-PET findings suggest that symptom benefits are associated with decreases in amyloid and tau accumulation in brain regions modulating mood and memory," the researchers reported in their study.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry on Jan. 19.