Turmeric Compound Boosts Cognitive Power, Reveals New Study

Turmeric Compound Boosts Cognitive Power, Reveals New Study

Jan 24, 2018 by News Staff / Source

Daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin, a bioactive compound found in the cooking spice turmeric, improved memory and mood in people with age-related memory loss, according to a new study.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Image credit: Joachim Schlosser / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Curcumin has previously been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in lab studies.

It also has been suggested as a possible reason that senior citizens in India, where curcumin is a dietary staple, have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive performance.

“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,” said study lead author Dr. Gary Small, from Longevity Center and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California.

Dr. Small and co-authors examined the effects of an easily absorbed curcumin supplement on memory performance in people without dementia, as well as curcumin’s potential impact on the microscopic plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 years who had mild memory complaints.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months.

All 40 subjects received standardized cognitive assessments at the start of the study and at six-month intervals, and monitoring of curcumin levels in their blood at the start of the study and after 18 months.

Thirty of the volunteers underwent positron emission tomography (PET) scans to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in their brains at the start of the study and after 18 months.

“The people who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities, while the subjects who received placebo did not,” Dr. Small said.

“In memory tests, the people taking curcumin improved by 28% over the 18 months.”

“Those taking curcumin also had mild improvements in mood, and their brain PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus than those who took placebos.”

Four people taking curcumin, and two taking placebos, experienced mild side effects such as abdominal pain and nausea.

The authors plan to conduct a follow-up study with a larger number of people.

“These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years,” Dr. Small said.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.


Gary W. Small et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, published online October 27, 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2017.10.010

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