Curcumin (2005-2017) & Alzheimer's


Curcumin is the key component responsible for the major therapeutic properties attributed to turmeric that affect AD pathology and age-related mental decline. It is found to inhibit amyloid beta plaque, inhibit formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, inhibit acetylcholinesterase, mediate insulin signaling, reduce tau hyperphosphorylation, and binding to copper. It decreases the low-density lipoprotein oxidation and the free radicals that cause the deterioration of neurons.

Tang M, Taghibiglou C. (2017). The Mechanisms of Action of Curcumin in Alzheimer's Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017;58(4):1003-1016.
Shehzad A, Rehman G, Lee YS (2013). Curcumin in inflammatory diseases. Biofactors. Jan-Feb; 39(1):69-77.
Kim GY, Kim KH, Lee SH, Yoon MS, Lee HJ, et al. (2005). Curcumin inhibits immunostimulatory function of dendritic cells: MAPKs and translocation of NF-kappa B as potential targets. J Immunol. Jun 15; 174(12):8116-24.

Curcumin also has strong anti-inflammatory activity attributable to its unique molecular structure. It increases neurogenesis, regulates enzymes essential for enzyme disbursement, mitochondrial regulation, gene expression oxidative stress and is also anti-mutagenic, and anti-microbial. One of the unique properties of curcumin is its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier offering an unusual opportunity to support brain health through its neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties around neurons and glial cells that is significantly associated with brain aging and injury.

Ibid. Shehzad. (2013).
Polazzi E, Monti B. (2010). Microglia and neuroprotection: from in vitro studies to therapeutic applications. Prog Neurobiol. Nov; 92(3):293-315.

Other studies show that curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help delay age-related mental decline. Reports have suggested lower dementia prevalence in South Asia may be directly attributable to the amount of turmeric (an excellent source of curcumin) used in daily cooking. Studies suggest that curcumin should be considered as part of a treatment strategy as well to treat or prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, PD, and cerebrovascular disease.

Dong S, Zeng Q, Mitchell ES, Xiu J, Duan Y, et al. (2012). Curcumin enhances neuro genesis and cognition in aged rats: implications for transcriptional interactions related to growth and synaptic plasticity. PloS One. 7(2):e31211.
Ng TP, Chiam PC, Lee T, Chua HC, Lim L, et al. (2006). Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol. Nov 1;164(9):898-906.
Bigford GE, Del Rossi. (2014). Supplemental substances derived from foods as adjunctive therapeutic agents for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and disorders. G Adv Nutr. Jul; 5(4):394-403.
Mourtas S, Lazar AN, Markoutsa E, Duyckaerts C, Antimisiaris SG. (2014). Multifunctional nanoliposomes with curcumin-lipid derivative and brain targeting functionality with potential applications for Alzheimer disease. Eur J Med Chem. Jun 10;80():175-83.

Food sources are primarily the turmeric spice often used in Indian and Indonesian food. The limitations of curcumin are primarily in its lack of ready absorption when taken orally and researchers are exploring ways to improve bioavailability. An older study showed that adding 20mg of piperine to 2g of curcumin improved its bioavailability markedly. About 5% of turmeric is curcumin and about 5% of black pepper (by weight) is piperine. Even 1/20th of piperine improves bioavailability. Curcumin is also fat soluble, so cook your turmeric and black pepper (freshly ground) briefly in oil before adding.

Serafini MM, Catanzaro M, Rosini M, Racchi M, Lanni C. (2017). Curcumin in Alzheimer's disease: Can we think to new strategies and perspectives for this molecule? Pharmacol Res. Oct;124:146-155.
Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, et al. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. May;64(4):353-6.

Note. Curcumin taken in high dosages may be toxic, so higher doses than what is recommended above should only be done under a health professional's care. For some people, higher dosages in the amount suggested above may result in some numbness, so start with a lower amount first then work your way up to the higher dosage depending on how you feel. It may also have slight blood thinning properties so should not be taken without your doctor's supervision if on blood thinners.

Curcumin is not recommended for persons with biliary tract obstruction because it stimulates bile secretion. It is also not recommended for people with gallstones, obstructive jaundice, or acute biliary colic.