A team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found evidence of anti-neurodegenerative effects in curcumin, a commonly used alternative medicine.
The study focused on 40 participants, aged 51 to 84, in which they were placed in a randomized trial lasting 18 months. Theracurmin was given to participants at a dosage of 90 mg, two times a day. The results were published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Researchers examined the cognition — memory and attention — of all participants utilizing a variety of verbal and visual tests, including the Buschke Selective Reminding Test and Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised. Also, brain scans were conducted of all participants in areas of the brain such as the amygdala, hypothalamus, and posterior cingulate.
In the findings, researchers concluded that curcumin provided drastic improvements in memory and attention.
“In memory tests, the people taking curcumin improved by 28 percent over the 18 months. Those taking 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,” a UCLA press release reads.
Researchers, however, are uncertain as to how curcumin directly aids in the treatment of neurodegeneration. One theory is that curcumin contributes to a reduction in brain inflammation.
“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, one of the lead researchers.
Another study is in the works, this time, to examine curcumin’s role in treating affective symptoms, as the supplement may contain antidepressant properties.