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Turmeric supplements improve memory, attention and mood

turmeric roots in the basket on wooden table


Most Indian curries have  turmeric in it to give it flavour and that distinct yellow colour. But turmeric has also been used as a herbal remedy for arthritis, cancer and cardiac disorders.

Curcumin, a substance found in turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-amyloid, and possible anti-tau properties which may offer neuroprotective benefits.

Previous studies have shown a lower prevalence of Alzheimer disease in people from India who consume curcumin in curry. There has also been a link between dietary curry consumption and better cognitive performance in older adults – thus indicating that consuming curcumin may provide neuroprotective benefits.

Researchers from UCLA recently examined the effect of bioavailable curcumin (supplements) on memory function of people without dementia. They also investigated curcumin’s impact on microscopic plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

In a first long-term double-blind placebo-controlled study 40 participants, aged between 50 and 90 years with mild memory problems, were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months.

All participants received standardised cognitive assessments at the beginning of the study and then at a six-month interval. Their curcumin levels were measured in the blood at the start of the study and after 18 months.

Thirty of the participants underwent positron emission tomography (PET) scans, to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in their brains at the start of the study and after 18 months.

Participants who took curcumin showed significant improvement in their memory function and attention, while participants who took the placebo did not show any improvements.

Participants who took curcumin showed a 28 percent improvement on memory tests over the 18 months. They also showed a mild improvement in their moods.

The PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus – regions of the brain that control memory and emotion function – in those who took curcumin than those who took placebos.

However, four people who took curcumin and two who took the placebo experienced mild side effects such as abdominal pain and nausea.

It is unclear how curcumin has this neuroprotective effect, but it may be due to its anti-inflammatory effects and the ability to reduce brain inflammation which is linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

The findings of this study suggest that taking a bioavailable form of curcumin can greatly benefit our memory and attention, and our cognitive health over the years.

The wonderful healing properties of turmeric can be incorporated in stir-fries, curries, soup and drink recipes but if you’re not inclined to cook with turmeric or create a delicious meal with it, then taking a curcumin supplements daily is highly beneficial for our mood and memory and long-term cognitive health.

Source: The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!