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Curcumin: This Potent Spice Taken as Little as Once a Week Can Fight Dementia

June 23, 2009 | 136,041 views


curry spice, turmeric, curcuminNew research shows that eating curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The key reason is curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric.

Curcumin prevents the spread of amyloid protein plaques, which are thought to cause dementia. Amyloid plaques, along with tangles of nerve fibers, contribute to the degradation of the wiring in brain cells.

There is evidence that people who eat a curry meal two or three times a week have a lower risk of dementia. Researchers are currently testing the impact of higher doses, such as the equivalent of going on a curry spree for a week, to see if they can maximize the effect.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I know many outstanding clinicians and health experts and it is amazing how the vast majority of them are in complete agreement that the active ingredient of turmeric, curcumin, the pigment that gives spicy turmeric its yellow-orange color, may be one of the most useful spices for health out there.

For years now turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, has shown powerful benefits to your brain health. One of the ways that it works, similar to vitamin D, is modulating large numbers of your genes.

The potential healing power of this spice, which is an important part of Eastern cultural traditions including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, perhaps first came about when it was noticed that the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease among older adults in India is more than four times less than the rate in the United States.

Why such a significant difference?

Some researchers believe the answer for this drastic disparity in Alzheimer's patients is a direct result of curcumin.

The researchers in this most recent study said curcumin appears to prevent the spread of amyloid protein plaques, which are thought to cause dementia in your brain.

In 2004, meanwhile, a study involving genetically engineered mice suggested that curcumin could inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids -- a component of the neurofibrillary tangles and plaques attributed to Alzheimer's disease -- in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, as well as break up existing plaques.

Based on the findings, researchers determined:
• Curcumin is more effective in inhibiting the formation of the protein fragments than many other potential Alzheimer's treatments

• The low molecular weight and polar structure of curcumin allows it to penetrate the blood-brain barrier effectively and bind to beta amyloid

• Alzheimer's symptoms caused by inflammation and oxidation are eased by curcumin's powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
It seems, too, that even eating curry just a couple of times a year may offer some benefit. In one study that tested the brain power of more than 1,000 Asian people, those who ate curry even just once every six months had better results than those who said they "never or rarely" ate it!

Further, UCLA researchers tested the effect of curcumin on isolated cells called macrophages (part of your body's immune system that eliminates waste products like the disease-causing amyloid beta) in blood samples taken from a half-dozen Alzheimer's patients for a day.

The blood samples from three Alzheimer's patients improved dramatically after being treated with curcumin, improving the digestion of the amyloid beta cells by the macrophages, present from birth in your body's innate immune system.

One important fact: Blood samples from younger patients responded better to curcumin, meaning the earlier Alzheimer's is recognized, the better the curry chemical appears to work.
“Holy Powder’s” Benefits Reach Far Beyond Your Brain
People in India refer to turmeric as “holy powder” because it has such a broad range of health effects. In fact, curcumin has been shown to influence more than 700 genes, with benefits that include:
• Strengthening and improving your digestion
• Supporting healthy liver function and detoxification
• Purifying your blood
• Fighting cancer and arthritis
• Anti-inflammatory properties
Further, evidence suggests turmeric may play a beneficial role in the following diseases:
• Cystic fibrosis
• Type 2 diabetes
• Crohn’s disease
• Psoriasis
• Rheumatoid arthritis

• Cataracts
• Gallstones
• Muscle regeneration
• Inflammatory bowel disease
To take advantage of some of these benefits you can absolutely use turmeric in your cooking, and in case you haven’t tried it, it has a warm, peppery flavor. However, be sure to choose a pure turmeric powder rather than a curry powder, as at least one study has found curry powders tend to contain very little curcumin compared to turmeric powder.

Be sure to listen to your body as always. If you love curry then feel free to indulge in it often. But if turmeric is a spice you do not enjoy it may be a sign that it’s not right for your body. If you are not one who enjoys the flavor of curry, you can also get the benefits of turmeric by taking it in a high-quality, organic supplement form.
Ten Important Ways to Avoid the Coming Alzheimer’s Epidemic
By 2010 there will be 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed each year, so NOW is the time to start taking action. Fortunately, your lifestyle can make a major difference in your risk of this disease. The tips that follow will bolster your brain health and keep your mind in top working order even as you get older.
1. Optimize your vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure, a safe tanning bed and/or vitamin D supplements.

2. Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of vegetables based on your nutritional type, and pay special attention to avoiding sugar.

3. Eat plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in the form of krill oil. Avoid most fish (high in omega-3, but often contaminated with mercury).

4. Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in Take Control of Your Health, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a qualified biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.

(Be sure to only use a high-quality biologically trained dentist who is familiar with the removal of amalgam fillings or your health could get ruined.)

5. Avoid aluminum, such as in antiperspirants, cookware, etc.

6. Exercise for three to five hours per week. According to one study, the odds of developing Alzheimer's were nearly quadrupled in people who were less active during their leisure time, between the ages of 20 and 60, compared with their peers.

7. Avoid flu vaccinations as they contain both mercury and aluminum!

8. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.

9. Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, such as traveling, learning to play an instrument or doing crossword puzzles, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

10. Avoid fluoride, which is another powerful neurotoxin. The most common sources would be in your water and toothpaste. But it is also a part of some antibiotics (like Cipro), soy protein, and pesticides, so seek to have as much of your food organically grown as possible.

[+] Sources and References

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