Iâ€™ve long touted the health benefits of turmeric. This remarkable herb, commonly used in India for thousands of years, is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and digestive aid. It also protects the liver and helps to prevent tumor formation. And I can personally vouch for it ability to speed wound healing.
This powerful little root has also now been found to help prevent Alzheimerâ€™s disease. Alzheimerâ€™s is a progressive disease affecting over 5 million Americans. Symptoms range from confusion to personality changes and as the disease advances family members and loved ones are also profoundly affected.
In rural India, curry is a main component of the diet and the elderly there have the lowest incidence of Alzheimerâ€™s in the world. Only one percent develop the disease – a statistic over four times lower than in the US. This has led researchers to study the primary ingredient in curry – turmeric.
Scientists from the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute banded together and studied blood samples from patients diagnosed with Alzheimerâ€™s. They found that bisdemethoxycurcumin, a phytochemical in the turmeric root, stimulated the patientsâ€™ macrophages into clearing amyloid beta, a protein which forms the brain plaques associated with the disease.
Chronic inflammation in the brain also accompanies the amyloid formation, and turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Curcumin, another component of turmeric, was studied by researchers at UCLA who found it significantly reduced Alzheimerâ€™s related inflammation. They also discovered that the herb prevented lipid peroxidation in the brain due to its potent anti-oxidant properties.
Turmeric is known to be nontoxic and virtually free from side effects. If youâ€™re not a fan of ethnic foods, you can still reap the rewards by taking the herb in supplement form. To get the full benefits, make sure that youâ€™re getting the whole herb and not a standardized extract of only one component. New Chapter and HerbPharm are excellent choices. After all, we could all use a bit of extra protection from the plant kingdom.