Is turmeric helpful for Alzheimer’s patients?

The effectiveness of natural and/or herbal treatments for Alzheimer’s disease continues to be debated, but there are some promising outcomes with the use of turmeric in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric, a spice which contains the compound curcumin, can be found in curries and other spicy dishes from India, Asia and the Middle East. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, a system of traditional and alternative medicine native to India, for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.

Turmeric can be introduced in the diet by enjoying curry dishes, adding it to a favorite smoothie or making a turmeric tea.

A 2012 study published in the International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda found that behavioral issues had improved significantly after being treated with less than a gram of turmeric daily for a period of three months. The study concluded that turmeric, combined with routine therapy, increased quality of life and improved execution of activities of daily living in the patients studied.

More than six years ago, Dr. James A. Duke, a noted ethnobotanist, published a wide-ranging summary of more than 700 turmeric studies that support the Ayurveda research. Tumeric was found to counteract symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by blocking the formation of beta-amyloid, the sticky protein substance believed to cause the cell and tissue damage indicative of an Alzheimer’s brain. Additionally, the studies found that turmeric reduced inflammation of neural tissue associated with the disease. Moreover, the studies also concluded that turmeric has promising healthful benefits for the treatment of Arthritis and also aids in fighting certain cancers.

The fact that India has one of the world’s lowest rates of Alzheimer’s may somewhat substantiate the effective use of turmeric. Ongoing trials continue to study the correlation between India’s high consumption of turmeric and the country’s low incidences of Alzheimer’s disease. However, keep in mind that even natural, alternative treatments can work against prescribed medications so always discuss any potential treatments with your physician.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.