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Curcumin May Fight Alzheimer's

You may recall stories I've posted on my Web site about the ways curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry spice and a dietary staple in India, has been used to fight cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis. A new study by UCLA researchers may explain why Alzheimer's rates in India are among the world's lowest.

Curcumin has been found to inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and also break up existing plaques, according to research involving genetically altered mice. Researchers also discovered curcumin is more effective in inhibiting the formation of protein fragments than many other drugs being tested as Alzheimer's treatments. Moreover, the low molecular weight and polar structure of curcumin allow it to penetrate the blood-brain barrier effectively and bind to beta amyloid.

Widely used as a food dye and preservative and in some cancer treatments, curcumin has undergone extensive toxicological testing in animals. It also is used extensively in traditional Indian medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

Researchers point out the logical step in the process is a clinical trial to establish safe and effective doses in aging patients. Let's hope this natural treatment is found to be safe and useful, considering the prevalence of Alzheimer's among adults ages 70-79 in India is more than FOUR TIMES LESS than the rate in this country.

Science Blog December 28, 2004

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