Its pungent earthy taste, aromatic scent and gorgeous golden color has been gracing the dishes of Indian cooks for literally thousands of years. But turmeric has been used medicinally for even longer.
Experts say around 500 BCE the spice emerged as a common treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. And today turmeric is enjoying another round in the spotlight as modern healers have rediscovered its anti-aging benefits.
Now researchers say the bitter but healing spice may help us dial back the years on our aging brains. Protecting us from memory loss and cognitive decline.
Fight aging and inflammation
The key to turmeric’s ability to fight memory loss lies in a compound found inside the herb called curcumin. It gives the spice its bright yellow color and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
The compound has already been used to fight the kind of oxidative stress and inflammation that’s behind many of the major diseases of aging including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
In fact, in one revealing study 80 mg of the turmeric extract a day significantly reduced disease triggering inflammation and oxidative stress in a group of healthy volunteers within just four short weeks.
But now scientists say there’s evidence it could provide a protective shield for your brain, too.
Memory loss halted with turmeric
In the new randomized placebo controlled study—published in the British Journal of Nutrition—volunteers received either 500 mg of curcumin three times a day or a placebo.
And the curcumin didn’t disappoint.
The unlucky folks who swallowed the placebo had the minor memory loss you’d expect to see in a normal brain as it ages. But those small slips can start to snowball into something far more serious.
Unchecked, eventually cognitive decline and dementia could be the result.
On the other hand, the powerful spice appears to have protected the brains of the volunteers who took the real curcumin extract. Those who took the curcumin didn’t suffer from the normal decline we’d expect to see. The placebo group had a measurable drop in function at the six month mark, but the curcumin takers did not.
And according to the researchers, the protection appeared to be the strongest in the parts of the brain we use the most in our everyday lives. The curcumin takers performed better on general memory tests. And they left the placebo takers in the dust when it came to tests of verbal skills too.
Spice slashes memory loss in several ways
So how does this humble herb combat memory loss? Well earlier studies have given us some clues.
Curcumin readily crosses the blood brain barrier. Which means the powerful antioxidant can protect your brain cells against marauding free radicals.
Research has also shown the herb helps increase blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory. In one study, it even bumped up blood flow as well as physical exercise.
In addition, animal studies have hinted that curcumin is capable of mopping up the memory stealing plaques that are associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. In one study when researchers injected mice with the extract, it stopped the Alzheimer’s-linked plaque buildup in its tracks.
But the benefits didn’t end there. Within three months of being treated with curcumin, the spice had begun to REVERSE the buildup of amyloid proteins in the hippocampus of the lab mice.
Plus animal research also shows that curcumin could even help beef up your brain.
Lab studies show the extract can increase DHA levels in the brain. This is critical because about 30 percent of your brain is made up of this essential fatty acid.
Plus low levels of DHA are associated with…
- neurological disorders
- cognitive decline
- Alzheimer’s disease
Fight memory loss and dial back the years on your aging brain with this all natural and affordable spice. You can use more turmeric in your cooking, but to get a real boost consider taking a supplement too.