Curcumin May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers in this study fed mice a standard diet, or the same diet supplemented with a low dose (160 parts per million) or a high dose (5,000 parts per million) of curcumin for six months. After six months, brain biopsies were conducted to evaluate any changes in the architecture of the tissue. The results showed that, compared with mice fed the standard diet, those fed a low curcumin diet, had a reduction in two markers of inflammation in the brain. The low curcumin diet also decreased oxidative damage to brain cells and reduced the production of amyloid (a protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s).
Mice fed a high-curcumin diet also had a significant improvement in some, but not all, of these measures. It is not clear why the higher curcumin intake was somewhat less effective than the lower. The amount of curcumin that achieved the greatest benefit when fed to mice is approximately equivalent to 1,600 mg per day for a person weighing 150 pounds.
While this preliminary study is promising, there is no research in humans suggesting that curcumin will have the same effects as those in mice. Findings in mice do not necessarily translate to an effect in humans, because the biochemistry and physiology of the two species differ in some ways. However, curcumin is relatively free of side effects and appears to be safer than NSAIDs, which have the potential to cause a number of toxic side effects. More research is needed to establish the effectiveness of curcumin in humans and to determine whether it can halt the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Lim GP, Chu T, Yang F, et al. The curry spice curcumin reduces oxidative damage and amyloid pathology in an Alzheimer transgenic mouse. J Neurosci 2001;21:8370–7.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of Garlic and Cholesterol: Everything You Need to Know (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice in Westport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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