TURMERIC/CURCUMIN AND ALZHEIMER’s DISEASE
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer is a disease that progress slowly and continuously as the time passes, it starts with mild memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion; recent memory that co-relate to the current events, starts diminish by the time and it gets tough to respond or carry out daily task or conversation. The disease affects the hippocampus area of the brain that controls the entire memory, language and thought process. It is an irreversible disease that destroys the neurons.
Sign and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
The symptoms start appearing after the age of 60 or 65 and the symptoms may vary from one person to another, memory loss, including impaired judgment or reasoning, decline thinking and planning, difficulty in choosing the right word, making decisions and cognitive impairment, all these are some starting symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also possible that people with this illness may forget to eat or how to use the toilet or dress properly, and even they may forget their family and friends due to the breakdown of brain tissues.
The disease also comes with some behavioural and the personality changes such as: mood swings, delusions, social withdrawal, depression, insomnia and irritability.
As the condition worsens the patient’s life span may get affected and he may survive only for the few years or decades and it is surprising to know that women suffer more from the Alzheimer’s disease than men.
Cause of Alzheimer’s disease:
Alzheimer’s disease may cause due to certain reasons:
• Brain cells get entangled or there is a build up plaque or a kind of protein called beta-amyloid in the brain. Plaques are the sticky abnormal clusters of proteins known as beta-amyloid; they can block the cell signalling system at the cell junctions or synapses.
• Tangles or tau (twisted protein fibers) disrupt the nutrient transport system of the brain that, may cause cell shrinkage and eventually cell death.
Risk factors linked with Alzheimer’s disease:
There is a lot of research still left to be done, but still certain risk factors such as age, family history; previous head injury or trauma, poor lifestyle, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol level etc, and genetics are directly linked with the Alzheimer’s disease. Experts are searching the cure and some have got success in uncovering the natural treatment to delay, reverse or prevent the Alzheimer’s disease, among these turmeric comes first, it is an age old spice that has shown promising outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease.
How turmeric or curcumin prevents Alzheimer’s disease?
• Turmeric prevents s the accumulation and clumping of beta-amyloid: It inhibits the clumping or aggregation of beta-amyloid plaques, it also prevents the activity of the main protein (presenilin-1) which contributes in the formation of plaques. Demethoxycurcumin and the curcumin both inhibit the collection of tau and beta amyloid protein and toxicity associated with them.
• Certain infections, injury or trauma and free radicals may cause brain inflammation, which may lead to plaque formation. Curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory that act on the nuclear factor kappa B, thus in this way prevents the formation of amyloid beta plaques.
• Heavy metals may also trigger the brain inflammation, curcumin and its derivatives serve as chelating and anti-oxidant agents that trap the heavy metals and neutralise their toxic effects and protects the brain cells from further damage.
• Turmeric and curcumin may support self repairing system of brain or neurogenesis and even it may induce autopahgy mechanism. Curcuminoids present in the turmeric also balance and regulate the neurotransmitters or brain chemicals.
• Curcumin improves memory and cognitive functions by enhancing the BDNF-A protein level, this protein helps in nerve growth in normal human brain.
• Curcuminoids present in the turmeric, stimulate the immune system and phagocytes to engulf damaged brain cells and plaque containing cells and at the same time these powerful antioxidants also restore the normal immune system.
It is seen that dietary turmeric is very helpful in aging brain cells since anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory components or polyphenols present in it protects the brain cells and curb the inflammation, thus helps Alzheimer’s disease. That is why in Asia, including India there is low cases of Alzheimer’s disease compared to Western countries because turmeric is the daily part of life since it is being used as a household spice since the time of Ayurveda.
A lot of research is continuing on the turmeric as a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but research is more directed on curcuminoids or polyphenols of turmeric, which are richly filled with potent anti-inflammatory, anti-amyloid and anti-oxidant properties. Thus turmeric and its active derivatives have enormous potential for the cure and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Since till now there is no cure available except strategic management, lifestyle changes and medications to control the symptoms and reducing the dependency.