Turmeric for Alzheimer's Disease

turmeric powder
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For protection against Alzheimer's disease (the most common cause of dementia among older people) the herb turmeric may be helpful. Long used in ayurveda (a 3000 year-old system of holistic medicine from the Indian subcontinent), turmeric is perhaps best known as an ingredient in curry powder.

Increasing your dietary intake of turmeric or consuming turmeric in dietary supplement form may aid in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease. This is because turmeric contains a class of compounds called curcuminoids, which include a substance known as curcumin. Known to posses antioxidant properties, curcumin may play a key role in turmeric's potential effects against Alzheimer's disease.

Animal Research on Turmeric to Treat Alzheimer's Disease

Research indicates that the curcumin found in turmeric may help curb inflammation and combat oxidative stress, two factors found to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Some additional studies suggest that curcumin may help thwart the Alzheimer's-associated breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.

There's also some evidence that turmeric may inhibit the formation of Alzheimer's-related brain plaques. Known to accumulate between nerve cells, these plaques form when protein fragments called beta-amyloid clump together. Beta-amyloid also appears to impair brain function by destroying synapses (structures through which nerve cells transmit signals to one another).

In several animal-based studies, scientists have observed that turmeric may help clear beta-amyloid from the brain. One study found that treatment with turmeric extract significantly reduced brain levels of beta-amyloid in mice genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Human Research on Turmeric to Treat Alzheimer's Disease

There are a lack of studies testing turmeric's effects on Alzheimer's disease in humans. Furthermore, there's some concern that taking turmeric in supplement form may fail to produce significant health benefits, since curcumin isn't efficiently absorbed into the blood.

The available clinical trials on turmeric and Alzheimer's disease include a small study. For the study, 36 people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease were split into two groups: members of one group were treated with curcumin for 24 weeks, while members of the second group received a placebo for the same time period.

At the study's end, researchers were unable to find any evidence that treatment with curcumin had a significant effect on Alzheimer's disease. While the supplement was generally well-tolerated, three members of the curcumin group dropped out of the study due to gastrointestinal symptoms.

Turmeric Safety and Dosage

Although turmeric in small amounts in food or supplements is generally considered safe for most adults, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) warns that high doses or long-term use of turmeric may trigger symptoms like diarrhea, indigestion, and nausea. For reference, studies often use doses of turmeric in the 500–2,000 mg range, so these are generally considered to be a good rule of thumb for your own use.

The NCCIH also advises people with gallbladder disease to avoid using turmeric as a dietary supplement, since it may aggravate the condition.

A Word From VeryWell

Behaviors such as following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, watching your weight, avoiding smoking and keeping socially active are all crucial for preserving your brain health as you age. Additionally, certain natural remedies (such as omega-3 fatty acids and resveratrol) may help stave off Alzheimer's disease.

Before using any type of natural remedy (including turmeric) in treatment of Alzheimer's disease, talk to your doctor for help in determining whether this remedy is right for you.

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