Halting Brain Inflammation

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people that live past 65 will die with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. Studies show that the neuropathological markers of Alzheimer’s disease (including beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) develop decades before symptoms of dementia appear. A growing body of research has identified various integrative strategies, including the use of Curcumin, that may delay the onset or progression of dementia.

Curcumin, the active nutrient from turmeric, is a compound that has potential neuroprotective effects. It has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and possible anti-tau properties. Animal studies suggest that curcumin may interfere with amyloid plaques and tau tangles, but these effects have not previously been evaluated in humans.

UCLA clinical trial evaluates the effects of curcumin on memory and brain imaging

In the first clinical trial of its kind, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) evaluated the effects of curcumin on memory and brain imaging in nondemented adults. The research group developed a process to provide in vivo (real life) brain images of plaques and tangles. Memory outcomes were evaluated with the Buschke Selective Reminding Test (SRT) and the Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R).

Cognitive assessments and brain imaging were conducted at baseline and 18 months. Forty adults (aged 50-90) without dementia took a Curcumin supplement (providing only 180 mg curcumin/day) or a placebo for the duration of the study.

Results showed significant improvement from baseline to 18 months in the curcumin group in verbal memory (based on the Buscke SRT Consistent Long-Term Recall) but no significant change in the placebo group.

Also, FDDNP binding (a component of dementia) was reduced in the brain’s amygdala and hypothalamus by curcumin when compared with placebo. This reduced binding is consistent with the findings of cognitive improvement. Previous studies have shown that higher FDDNP binding in areas that control thinking and memory is associated with lower cognitive performance in nondemented adults.

This study was the first long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a bioavailable form of curcumin in nondemented adults. The results suggest that daily intake of only 180 mg of highly absorbable curcumin per day for 18 months provides cognitive benefits, potentially as a result of curcumin’s anti-inflammatory or anti-amyloid effects in the brain. Since we recommend even higher doses, we are confident we are helping many people!

Small GW, Siddarth P, Li Z et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2018; 26: 266-277.