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DEMENTIA

Do you remember Simon and Garfunkel’s old “Scarborough Fair” tune? Somebody should do a re-make of that song. Only this time, they should insert “turmeric” when they get to the part of the song where they list off all the spices (“Parsley, sage, rosemary and…turmeric”).

As fans of curry know, turmeric is the primary ingredient of the spicy dish.  I’ve written about the health benefits of curry in the past, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that turmeric is the ingredient that makes curry so good for you (just as fish can be unhealthy, so can curry, so not all curry dishes are healthy.  It all depends on the totality of ingredients used in its preparation).

My past postings on terrific turmeric has focused on things like cancer prevention, relieving arthritis flare-ups, and how its often used in the promotion of digestive health.  The latest news on turmeric indicates that it promotes cognitive health, as it’s believed to be something of a dementia defender.

The belief that turmeric can ward off dementia is based on a totality of evidence that researchers have observed.  The vanguard behind the belief of turmeric’s brain boosting benefits is Dr. Murali Doraiswamy from Duke University.

The studies by Mr. Doraiswamy show “solid evidence,” as he told BBC News, that the chief ingredient of curry actually breaks down the amyloid plaques that contribute to the eventual formation of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.

He says this after observing the brains of rats that were genetically altered to be “riddled” with plaque.   After doctors fed the rats high doses of turmeric, the plaque buildup progressively wore away (12 months of turmeric supplementation).

When Doraiswamy’s presented his case for taking turmeric to prevent dementia, it didn’t convince the doctors in attendance at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  Perhaps they were influenced by reading about turmeric in online search engines, like in MSN’s new search engine, which says there’s “little evidence” supporting turmeric’s health benefits.

For many, proof of something like turmeric having healing qualities must be determined in a clinical setting; in other words, where the study was scientific and the testing was done on humans.  I can understand that.  After all, certain things affect humans and animals differently.  But ALL studies start with rats or animals for the sake of safety; then they move on to humans.  So these people won’t be convinced until later studies.

The doubtful doctors will be glad to know that clinical studies are already underway at the University of California to see if turmeric impacts plaque buildup in human brains.  But as far as turmeric’s role in the prevention of other things, like with cancer cell prevention, clinical studies were done in those instances (you can find out more about that here).

So take that, doubtful docs!

With regards to how turmeric affects dementia, I fully expect the results will indicate plaque-cracking properties among humans.  Because as Susanne Sorensen told the BBC News in an interview, Indian communities have some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s.

Coincidence? I think not.

 

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