RSSTurmeric improves memory and reduces brain plaque

Posted on Mon, 26 Feb 18

Turmeric improves memory and reduces brain plaque

Turmeric extract has been shown to improve memory by changing the biology of memory loss in adults, for the first time. 

Despite the popularity of turmeric extracts for memory and cognition very few studies have examined such effects in adults. Previous placebo-controlled trials in Alzheimer disease patients have found no benefit when compared to placebo [1-2]. The apparent failure of turmeric in these studies may be due to two important factors, 1) the use of extracts with low bioavailability, and/ or 2) the inability of turmeric alone to impact advanced dementia. 

In support of this possibility, more recent studies of enhanced bioavailability turmeric extracts have suggested modest potential benefits in healthy older age adults without dementia [3,4]. 

Taking these factors into account, a new study assessed an enhanced bioavailability turmeric extract (Theracurmin® providing 90 mg of curcumin, twice daily) in adults aged between 50 and 90 years with brain health consistent with normal aging or mild cognitive impairment, but not dementia [5]. 

Those taking turmeric experienced significant memory and attention benefits after the 18-months, when compared to placebo. In addition, Positron Emission Tomography demonstrated that the turmeric extract led to less neuropathological accumulation of plaques and tangles in the amygdala and hypothalamus. Amyloid plaques and tau tangles are a feature of Alzheimer disease, and this is the first-time turmeric has been shown to influence these in humans.  

“Our positive findings that daily use of Theracurmin, a bioavailable form of curcumin, improves memory and decreases amyloid and tau binding in the amygdala and hypothalamus are encouraging that this relatively inexpensive and nontoxic treatment may have a potential for not only improving age-related memory decline but also preventing or possibly staving off progression of neurodegeneration and eventually future symptoms of Alzheimer disease,” commented the study investigators.

These results warrant further study in similar populations to confirm the observed cognitive benefits of curcumin and elucidate the underlying mechanisms responsible for such effects.”


  1. Baum L, Lam CW, Cheung SK, et al. Six-month randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, pilot clinical trial of curcumin in patients with Alzheimer disease. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Feb;28(1):110-3.
  2. Ringman JM, Frautschy SA, Teng E, et al. Oral curcumin for Alzheimer's disease: tolerability and efficacy in a 24-week randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2012 Oct 29;4(5):43.
  3. Rainey-Smith SR, Brown BM, Sohrabi HR, Shah T, Goozee KG, Gupta VB, Martins RN. Curcumin and cognition: a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study  of community-dwelling older adults. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jun;115(12):2106-13. 
  4. Cox KH, Pipingas A, Scholey AB. Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. J Psychopharmacol.  2015 May;29(5):642-51.
  5. Small GW, Siddarth P, Li Z, et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 27. pii: S1064-7481(17)30511-0.

Tags: Turmeric, Curcumin, Brain Health, Dementia

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