Have you ever met someone new, whether it was at work or school, introduced yourselves and became friends, but the minute they walked away you suddenly forgot what their name was? Makes you wonder why you got all the worst genetic traits from your parents, while your family/siblings are always so positive and have an amazing working memory. Researchers at UCLA have conducted a study on the positive effects of spice in individuals with memory loss and mood. Curcumin, giving curry its bright yellow color, has been found to have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing inflammation in the brain, which is one of the major causes leading to Alzheimers disease and depression. Curry is a very popular spice in Indian Cuisine, eaten all throughout India. Researchers suggest this could be the reason why the people of India have a low rate of Alzheimers disease.
A placebo-controlled study was conducted on a group of 40 individuals, half of which received the placebo and the other half receiving 90 mg of curcumin twice a day for 18 months. Prior to beginning the study, a cognitive assessment and PET scan were administered to compare to the final results. The study revealed that individuals who took the curcumin showed significant improvement- 28% in memory and attention, while showing mild improvement in mood. Those who were taking the placebo showed no changes. By the end of the study, participants who received curcumin had a reduction in amyloid and tau signals in the hypothalamus and amygdala- the regions of the brain responsible for memory and emotions. Four of the people taking curcumin and two of the people taking the placebo developed abdominal pain and nausea.
UCLA plans to conduct another study in the near future on a larger pool of people to better understand curcumins antidepressant effects and better analyze the effects it has on memory for those who are more genetically at risk for Alzheimers.