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UCLA: Memory-Mood Boosted by Curcumin Despite Aging

The spice turmeric contains curcumin. In a UCLA study, curcumin significantly improved memory and mildly improved mood in people with memory problems.
anti-inflammatory, curcuma longa, curcumin

Lovers of Indian food, give yourselves a second helping: Daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin — the substance that gives Indian curry its bright color — improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss, according to the results of a study conducted by UCLA researchers.

Curcumin, Memory & Alzheimer’s

The research, published online in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 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.

Found in turmeric, 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 Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center and of the geriatric psychiatry division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and the study’s first author.

90 Milligrams of Curcumin

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, or PET scans, to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in their brains at the start of the study and after 18 months.

Significant Improvements in Memory & Attention

The people who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities, while the subjects who received placebo did not, Small said. In memory tests, the people taking curcumin improved by 28 percent 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.

The amygdala and hypothalamus are regions of the brain that control several memory and emotional functions.

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

Relatively Safe Form of Curcumin

The researchers plan to conduct a follow-up study with a larger number of people. That study will include some people with mild depression so the scientists can explore whether curcumin also has antidepressant effects. The larger sample also would allow them to analyze whether curcumin’s memory-enhancing effects vary according to people’s genetic risk for Alzheimer’s, their age or the extent of their cognitive problems.

“These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years,” said Small, UCLA’s Parlow–Solomon Professor on Aging.


MORE INFO:

The paper’s authors, in addition to Small, are Prabha Siddarth, Dr. Zhaoping Li, Karen Miller, Linda Ercoli, Natacha Emerson, Jacqueline Martinez, Koon-Pong Wong, Jie Liu, Dr. David Merrill, Dr. Stephen Chen, Susanne Henning, Nagichettiar Satyamurthy, Sung-Cheng Huang, Dr. David Heber and Jorge Barrio, all of UCLA.

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Caregiving in Love
Caregiving in Love
January 31, 2018 8:28 pm

It would informative if we had the information of the source and the dosage of the Curcumin. Plus, how it was given to the patients.

Unknown
Unknown
February 1, 2018 4:31 am

Yes would like to know that too. I have the turmeric powder but it doesn't work with the food I cook.

Lizzie
Lizzie
February 1, 2018 4:52 am

Note that the article has a link to "the research":

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748117305110?via%3Dihub

The product Theracurmin®, containing 90 mg of curcumin, was given twice daily.

umamaheshch
umamaheshch
September 16, 2018 3:38 pm

Dosage of Turmeric/Curcumin and how to take and how many times a day information will be useful to every one. Hope I receive information regarding this. Thanks for the article and information.

B. Berger

B. Berger

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chaffe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. With a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia appearing on the internet every 7 minutes, the site’s focus on the best information has been a help to many over the past 15 years. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chaffe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. With a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia appearing on the internet every 7 minutes, the site’s focus on the best information has been a help to many over the past 15 years. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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