Turmeric & Curcumin

 

 

It’s interesting to note that epidemiological studies show the incidence of prostate cancer among men in India to be among the lowest in the world. One recent study estimated that the annual prostate cancer incidence rate in India ranges from 5.0 to 9.1 per 100,000/year. In contrast, among whites in the United States, the incidence rate is 110.4 per 100,000/year—more than ten times higher compared with men from India. The rate for African Americans is even higher.45 Perhaps not coincidentally, Indian men’s consistent intake of turmeric, in the form or curry, is among the highest in the world. The average intake of turmeric in the Indian population is 2-2.5 g/day, providing 60-200 mg curcumin.

 

One of today’s most promising natural disease-fighting agents is curcumin. Derived from the curry spice turmeric, curcumin has been used for millennia to target disease and promote good health.

 

  • Curcumin promotes health by diverse mechanisms. Scientists have documented curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, neuroprotective, cancer-fighting, and immune-enhancing abilities.
  • Curcumin may help protect the brain against the devastating consequences of stroke and exposure to toxic heavy metals.

Individuals who consume more curcumin-rich curry are less likely to experience cognitive decline, suggesting curcumin could help protect the nervous system against aging.

 

Among curcumin’s many benefits, protection from neurological damage ranks high on many researchers’ lists. “Curcumin has at least 10 known neuroprotective actions and many of these might be realized in [living subjects]…”

 

As another example, South African investigators wondered if curcumin could protect rats’ brains from lead poisoning.One way lead damages brain tissue is by inducing lipid peroxidation.50 Brain tissue is largely composed of lipids, so it’s especially vulnerable to this type of damage. By adding curcumin to test animals’ diets, lead toxicity was significantly reduced, possibly by raising concentrations of the antioxidant glutathione.51 Previously, Indian researchers reported that curcumin raised concentrations of glutathione and two potent antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase and catalase, in the brains of lead-poisoned rats, significantly attenuating lead-induced damage.52

 

Other researchers report that curcumin may chelate, or bind to, toxic heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, greatly reducing their toxicity to neurological tissues.53

 

Furthermore, scientists have reported that curcumin protects brain tissue against oxidative stress by promoting production of a protective enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). “In the [central nervous system],” wrote the researchers, “HO-1 has been reported to operate as a fundamental defensive mechanism for neurons exposed to an oxidant challenge.”54 Traumatic injury to the brain also results in oxidative stress, often affecting cognition and “synaptic plasticity,” which is believed to play a crucial role in healthy learning and memory. In animal experiments, US researchers showed, “Supplementation of curcumin in the diet dramatically reduced oxidative damage and… counteracted the cognitive impairment caused by [traumatic brain injury].”55

 

Even in the absence of injury or toxicity, loss of cognitive function is a hallmark of aging. Memory loss is believed to begin by age 50, and, by age 80, it’s predicted that nearly half of all individuals will advance to some form of dementia.56

Wondering if curcumin might protect aging brains from cognitive decline, Asian scientists conducted an epidemiological study of curry consumption and cognitive function among the elderly. They found that men and women who consumed turmeric-laced curry “occasionally,” “often,” or “very often,” had significantly better scores on a standardized test of mental status than subjects who “never or rarely” consumed curry. The investigators described these findings as “tentative evidence of better cognitive performance from curry consumption in nondemented elderly Asians…”25

 

Given that turmeric is a food that has been safely consumed for millennia, curcumin would appear to be the perfect dietary supplement.3 In fact, “Curcumin has an outstanding safety profile and a number of [multifunctional] actions…” wrote US researchers recently.16 Phase I clinical trials, using massive doses of curcumin (up to 8 g/day for four months) in human volunteers, “did not result in discernible toxicities…”17

 

Iron gradually builds up in certain cells and tissues over the course of the human life span. Too much iron accelerates mitochondrial decay and inflicts system-wide free radical damage to healthy tissues.1,2 Age-related iron overload is a known contributor to multiple degenerative diseases, including liver fibrosisheart attack, andcancer.3-8

 

Iron accumulation is often a consequence of aging. In the laboratory, total iron content has been shown to increase exponentially as cells age, resulting in 10-fold higher levels of iron compared to young cells.3

 

Dr. George Bartzokis is a widely published researcher and professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. Much of his work has been devoted to understanding the role that iron plays in human brain development, function, and aging, with a particular emphasis on the link between iron andneurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

 

Bartzokis’ team showed that they could accurately measure iron levels in living humans’ brains by using a highly specialized non-invasive form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).11 Applying this technique to groups of people with and without Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers quickly discovered significantly larger amounts of stored iron in certain brain regions in those with Alzheimer’s than in control subjects.9,12 Similar findings held true in Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease sufferers as well.10,13

 

Third, the researchers found that people with the highest brain iron accumulations had the earliest age at onset of the degenerative diseases.15

 

But it wasn’t only neurodegenerative diseases for which excessive iron accumulation was a risk. The UCLA researchers studied a group of healthy older adults, comparing memory and information-processing speed according to their brain iron levels. Those with the highest accumulations of iron in their brain grey matter had the poorest performance, especially among men.16

 

Bartzokis’ team was struck by several other gender differences apparent in these diseases: men are more likely to develop these conditions at earlier ages than women, and women have significantly lower iron levels in five vital brain regions than men of similar ages.17 This is due to the fact that women menstruate and so they naturally expel some of the excess iron in their bodies through menstruating. This is also why most of the humans above the age of 100 that are currently live are women.

 

These findings led to a compelling study published in late 2011 demonstrating for the first time that limiting your body’s lifetime exposure to iron can in turn limit your risk of neurodegenerative brain disorders.

 

It began with the observation that women not only have lower brain iron levels in their later years, they also have lower iron levels throughout their bodies for most of their lives. It has long been known among physicians that this difference arises because women lose iron during their reproductive years through menstruation. Could that steady, low-level loss of iron be an effective means by which women inadvertently but effectively limit their lifetime exposure to iron, thereby protecting themselves from early-onset brain disorders?

It began with the observation that women not only have lower brain iron levels in their later years, they also have lower iron levels throughout their bodies for most of their lives. It has long been known among physicians that this difference arises because women lose iron during their reproductive years through menstruation. Could that steady, low-level loss of iron be an effective means by which women inadvertently but effectively limit their lifetime exposure to iron, thereby protecting themselves from early-onset brain disorders?

 

Experts now typically recommend that older adults limit their intake of red meat, which is our major natural dietary source of iron.

 

Iron chelation by curcumin is now recognized as one of the mechanisms by which it prevents cognitive deficits and pathological tissue changes in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.48 In addition to its direct chelation of iron, curcumin induces increased genetic expression of the body’s natural iron-binding and transport protein, ferritin, further sequestering iron away from vulnerable tissues.50 These multiple capabilities lead directly to reduction in iron levels in iron-overloaded organs.50,53-55

 

India, where turmeric is consumed daily, has a vastly lower age-specific dementia rate [than the developed world],

 

Telomerase inhibiton study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23192708

 

The low molecular weight and polar structure of curcumin allows it to penetrate the blood-brain barrier effectively. Animal studies have indicated that curcumin can enhance the adult hippocampus neurogenesis process by increasing the number of newly generated cells in the dentate gyrus region of hippocampus[2].

 

Curcumin enhances the level of neurotrophic factors such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)[9]

 

It was further explored that curcumin inhibits the activity of both MAO-A and MAO-B enzymes. It is important to mention here that monoamine oxidase is the enzyme that is involved in the degradation of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. By inhibiting the activity of MAO enzyme, curcumin increases the concentration of these neurotransmitters in the synapse and thus prolonging their action.

 

animals were subjected to stress paradigm once a day over a period of 21 days. Some of the unpredictable stressors include, cold swimming (8° for 5 min); tail pinch (1 min); food and water deprivation (24 h); swimming at room temperature (24±2°, 20 min); overnight illumination; no stress; tail pinch (1.5 min); cold swim (l0° for 5 min); swimming at room temperature (24±2° for 15 min); tail pinch (2 min); cold swim (6° for 5 min)[7]. It was found that rats who were chronically challenged to various stressful conditions exhibited significant increase in immobility period as compared to control animals in forced swim test. Curcumin at doses of 20 and 40 mg/kg reversed this immobility period in unpredictable stressed mice[7]. Animal challenged with chronic unpredictable stress demonstrates lower levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Chronic administration of curcumin did not affect depleted norepinephrine levels but restored levels of serotonin and dopamine[7]

 

It has been demonstrated that piperine (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.) enhanced the antidepressant-like activity of curcumin

 

Curcumin has been widely studied for its antidepression properties [118119]

 

evidence has shown that curcumin enhances neurogenesis, notably in the frontal cortex and hippocampal regions of the brain.

 

 

 

When curcumin (20 and 40 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered along with the bioavailability-enhancing agent piperine, enhancement of the antidepressant action and increased brain penetration of curcumin were observed [118].

 

Turmeric, onions and cruciferous vegetables is a fantastic combination

 

Can slow down brain aging

 

In a recent rat study conducted to evaluate the effects of turmeric on the liver’s ability to detoxify xenobiotic (toxic) chemicals, levels of two very important liver detoxification enzymes (UDP glucuronyl transferase and glutathione-S-transferase) were significantly elevated in rats fed turmeric as compared to controls. The researchers commented, “The results suggest that turmeric may increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties…Turmeric used widely as a spice would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens.”

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