A recent study by University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers touts the many health benefits of curcumin, which has shown to improve memory and mood with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The study, recently published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, included 40 adults between age 50 and 90 with mild memory complaints; they were randomly given a placebo or 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months, according to a university press release. Those who took curcumin -- a compound found in the spice turmeric that gives it a bright color -- had significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities, and those given the placebo did not, the release said. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans and emission tomography were then used to determine participants' levels of amyloid and tau in the brain.
“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” Dr. Gary Small, the study's first author and director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center, said in a news release.
According to researchers, the study may help to explain why seniors in India, where curcumin is largely consumed in diets, have a lower rate of Alzheimer's disease and better cognitive performance.
Researchers say they plan to conduct a follow-up study that will involve a larger sample of people as well as include those with depression in order to explore curcumin's antidepressant effects.