Curcumin (Curcuma longa) is the main biologically active phytochemical compound of turmeric. It is extracted, concentrated, standardized and researched. Curcumin, which gives the yellow color to turmeric, was first isolated almost two centuries ago, and its structure as diferuloylmethane was determined in 1910.
Curcumin has been part of Indian traditional medicine for thousands of years, and is used as an anti-inflammatory treatment for a variety of aliments.
According to a study at UCLA using mice, it was found that curcumin inhibited the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids (a component of the neurofibrillary tangles and plaques attributed to Alheimer’s) in the brains of Alheimer’s Disease (AD) patients, as well as break up existing plaques. Based on findings, researchers determined:
- Curcumin is more effective in inhibiting the formation of the protein fragments than many other potential AD treatments.
- Curcumin’s low molecular weight and structure allows it to penetrate the blood-brain barrier effectively and bind to beta amyloid.
- AD symptoms caused by inflammation and oxidation are eased by curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Other studies have had equally positive findings. A UCLA study examining the immunological effect of cucumin in AD, reported that cucumin “may correct immune defects of AD patients and provide a previously uncharacterized approach to AD immunotherapy.”
Curcumin is also used in herbal medicine and mental health in combination with other herbs. A review of several studies that looked at how the antioxidant activities of phenolic compounds produce neuroprotective effects found that green tea, ginkgo biloba extract, blueberry extracts, and curcumin all had the ability to reduce or to block neuronal death occurring in the pathophysiology of AD and Parkinson’s.