October 6, 2011

Is Turmeric Most Effective for Alzheimer’s?

It has been known that India has the world’s lowest rate of Alzheimer’s Disease. To understand Ayurveda- traditional wisdom, their lifestyle and food intake may reveal the secret.  

One of common food ingredients use in every house of Indian is turmeric, the golden spice which contains powerful antioxidant – curcumin. Indian people have used turmeric powder for hundreds of centuries not only in their everyday food but also in Ayurvedic medicine 
herbalism, wedding ceremony, and daily mask claimed to clear acne and nourish skin either use it directly on the face or mixed together with milk.

There are estimates that people in India take about 2 grams of turmeric per day from the food intake and that provides roughly 100 mg of curcumin. Some scientists think that the regular ingestion of this spice help reduce rate of Alzheimer's disease in India. The prevalence of Alzheimer's among adults in India aged 70 to 79 is among the world's lowest. It is 4.4 times less than the rate in the United States.
Turmeric is being studied for its ability to help treat Alzheimer's disease but most of the studies so far have been on animals. Good news is there is a growing number of mainstream researchers see turmeric and curcumin as possible herb in preventing and fighting disease in humans. But until these compounds are tested in people there is no way to know their full potential.

Besides FDA’s approved drugs for Alzheimer’s, curcumin may be effective than many other drugs being tested as Alzheimer's treatments. Scientists found that curcumin was able to reduce deposits of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains of elderly lab mice that ate curcumin as part of their diets. Moreover, when the researchers added low doses of curcumin to human beta-amyloid proteins in a test tube, the compound kept the proteins from aggregating and blocked the formation of the amyloid fibers that make up Alzheimer's plaques. The study by UCLA and Veterans Affairs scientists, indicated that a rodent chow laced with curcumin slowed the accumulation in mouse brains of protein fragments known as beta amyloids which are focused as a key to the development of Alzheimer's.

This is likely to be so good to be true if we overlook the side effects of turmeric. It is not clear about the effect of high dose turmeric curcumin consumption for continuous use and scientists cannot fully attest that it will not interact with other medicines. According to American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is a possibility that the consumption of supplemental doses of turmeric can significantly increase oxalate levels in urine and lead to increasing risk of kidney stone formation.  However, some researchers theorize that calcium can help prevent the formation of stones and drinking enough water can flush away those might cause kidney stone. Considering the fact that Indian food is always added yogurt or milk in recipe, this may be another traditional wisdom from Indian people

New researches and tests are on the way and we will see soon if Turmeric – Curcumin is the promising herb for alzheimer’s as we wish or not.

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