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What Is the Connection Between Curcumin and Alzheimer's?

Turmeric, which contains curcumin.
Curcumin is often taken in capsule form to prevent or alleviate Alzheimer's.
Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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There have been several links between curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease, most notably the ways in which supplements may help prevent or even alleviate Alzheimer’s. Although the exact causes of Alzheimer’s is not known, it is believed that inflammation and the formation of plaque in the brain are the main contributors. Curcumin helps to block these triggers and can even reverse some damage in those already suffering from the disease.

Curcumin is found in the curry and has been used in Indian cuisine for many centuries. This is what originally led the Indian people to notice that the spice also seemed to have curative powers. Today, India and other nations which use curry frequently to flavor food have far less instances of colon cancer, breast cancer, and degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.

One possible link between curcumin and Alzheimer’s is that it acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are enzymes which seek out and destroy free radicals, or mutated cells. This helps prevent or treat Alzheimer’s because free radicals are contributors to the mutation of brain cells, or neurons. If brain cells remain intact, degenerative diseases have a harder time taking hold.

Another factor at work in curcumin and Alzheimer’s treatment is the fact that curcumin is a known anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used for centuries to prevent pain caused from inflammation in conditions such as arthritis. Because inflammation of brain tissue is a leading factor in degradation of the cells, this can help prevent a host of neurological disorders.

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The most compelling evidence linking curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease is the plant’s natural ability to block foreign bodies from entering healthy cells. This occurs throughout the body, helping to prevent cells from becoming cancerous and in preventing plaque and other toxic substances from entering brain cells. This helps to lower the instance of neurological damage in those who eat curry regularly or who take supplements in tablet form.

Curcumin supplements are available in capsule or tablet form. Whole food supplements are best, although pharmaceutical companies are trying to develop synthetic versions. Eating foods spiced with curry or turmeric is another preventative measure. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s may be put on a supplement regimen with higher than average doses. Side effects are rare but may include chest tightness and skin irritation in those taking very high doses of curcumin.

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