- By: Dr. John Stenberg
- Date: Feb 08, 2018
Age-related memory loss is a growing concern with the increased incidence of disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, short-term memory loss, and more. New research is shedding light on the powerful effects of a substance found in Indian curry on both memory and mood in older populations. Curcumin is the substance that gives Indian curry its vibrant yellow color and has been used for thousands of years as a staple of far-east Asian dietary. Curcumin is found in the turmeric spice and has shown promising results in tests performed on 40 subjects ages 50-90 with age-related memory loss.
It has long been known that age-related memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s can be attributed to the accumulation of certain proteins in the brain. Like a buildup of plaque on the enamel of your teeth, these proteins stick to the cells of the brain and cause inflammation and degeneration. The degeneration of these brain cells results in a decreased functional capacity in areas such as mood, memory, and depression.
During this 18-month long study, participants were given either a curcumin supplement or a placebo. Each participant performed cognitive assessments that measured the performance of the brain in these key areas. At the end of the study, the participants who took the curcumin supplement experienced dramatic improvements in their cognitive function tests when compared to the group on the placebo. These findings are especially exciting since curcumin is readily available over the counter, has little to no side effects, and can potentially decrease inflammation in the brain.
The brain is responsible for a tremendous amount of metabolic activity. It never sleeps and constantly monitors the functions of the body, making moment-by-moment changes in order to adapt to the changing demands of life. Inflammatory markers such as Tau and beta-amyloid plaques have been implicated in disease processes such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. Having strategies in place for long term brain health is essential for folks with a family history or predisposition to these diseases. While curcumin supplementation provides dietary support for reducing inflammation, the health of the central nervous system (brain, brain stem, and spinal cord) depends on multiple factors.
Supplements, OTC, and Rx drugs all provide a chemical approach to dealing with issues related to nervous system function. Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga incorporate the mental/emotional/spiritual component to nervous system health and have shown tremendous results. The last piece of the nervous-system-health puzzle includes a strategy for maintaining and optimizing the health of the spine, as it houses, protects, and transmits the structures of the nervous system to each part of the body. Minor shifts in the spine are at first no big deal – no one has 100% PERFECT structure. However, just like normal body temperature (98.6 degrees F), normal eyesight (20/20), and normal blood pressure (120/80) there is an acceptable range. Shifts outside of this normal range produce structural stress to the spine requiring increased energy and muscle activity to compensate for. Over time, these imbalances can lead to the onset of one or more secondary conditions including neck and back pain, migraine headaches, dizziness/vertigo, fatigue, and more. Attempts to alleviate or eliminate these symptoms without addressing the underlying structural cause will likely result in a gradual return of these symptoms and decreased nervous system performance.
Prevention is key when it comes to addressing these complicated age-related memory issues, and the findings from the curcumin research study highlight the availability of products and services that can be implemented proactively for at-risk populations. Curcumin supplementation is a bright spot in this area, and future research is being performed to identify specific mechanisms underlying these amazing findings. A well-rounded approach for the chemical, mental/emotional/spiritual, and structural aspects of brain health is an exciting frontier for improving the long term health consequences related to these disorders.