Indian American says turmeric curry keeps dementia at bay

June 6th, 2009 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 6 (IANS) Turmeric curry once or twice a week could keep Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at bay, thanks to a magic ingredient curcumin found in the spice, according to an Indian American psychiatrist.
Murali Doraiswamy, psychiatry professor at the Mental Fitness Lab of the Duke University Medical Centre (DUMC), North Carolina, told delegates at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ annual meeting Liverpool that curcumin prevented the spread of amyloid plaques.

These plaques are thought to contribute to the degradation of the wiring in brain cells and lead to the subsequent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Doraiswamy, who did his MBBS from Madras University (India) in 1987, said: “There is very solid evidence that curcumin binds to plaques, and basic research on animals engineered to produce human amyloid plaques has shown benefits.

“Turmeric has been studied not just in Alzheimer’s research but for a variety of conditions, such as cancer and arthritis. Turmeric is often referred to as the spice of life in ancient Indian medical lore,” said Doraiswamy.

A clinical trial is now underway at the University of California, Los Angeles, to test curcumin’s effects in Alzheimer’s patients and specifically on their amyloid plaque proteins.

A small pilot trail was completed to determine the right dose and researchers have now embarked on a larger study.

Doraiswamy told the Royal College annual meeting that “you can modify a mouse so that at about 12 months its brain is riddled with plaques. If you feed this rat a curcumin-rich diet it dissolves these plaques”.

However, curry may be just one of the ingredients that prevent degeneration of the brain. “If you are eating fatty burgers and smoking then don’t expect an occasional curry to counterbalance a poor lifestyle,” he said.

Turmeric is also found in mustard and Doraiswamy predicted a day when - for those unable, or unwilling, to consume curries regularly - the public might be advised to take a ‘curry’ pill every day if the findings are confirmed in human studies, said a DUMC release.

Doraiswamy, a leading expert on brain health and fitness, is on a lecture tour promoting his book, “The Alzheimer’s Action Plan”, published in April.

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