Spices for Alzheimer's Disease?

Chemicals in turmeric, a spice used as an ingredient in curry, may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research team studied curcuminoids, oils found in turmeric. In preliminary tests done in the lab, this chemical helped rid the blood of a key component in Alzheimer's brain plaque. According to the researchers it may become possible to give Alzheimer's patients infusions of the chemical in turmeric to stimulate the immune system to remove the brain plaque component.

In test tubes, they mixed the curry compound with Alzheimer's brain plaque protein (amyloid beta), using blood from people with and without Alzheimer's disease. One of the results of Alzheimer's is that it becomes difficult for immune system cells to remove this protein. Turmeric helped overcome that problem in the lab tests.

The immune system cells in Alzheimer's patients' blood were better at destroying the brain plaque protein when turmeric was present. At this point, it is not known whether eating a lot of curry or taking turmeric in a pill form could have the same (or any) effect, but it is possible that blood infusions of the curcuminoids could achieve effective blood levels. It hasn't been tested clinically yet, but it does raise new possibilities for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.


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