Turmeric for a Healthy Brain: Part II

Have you had your turmeric yet this week?

In a recent post, I talked about the neuroplastic possibilities of curcumin (a brain-boosting chemical in turmeric) for slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Did that convince you to start eating it? If not, consider this my second attempt.

Spices that improve brain health

Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease isn’t the only benefit from eating turmeric.

We were curious and so did a PubMed search. We came across so many other important studies on curcumin that we had to share some of them with you.

Let’s start with some more brain benefits.

A randomized, controlled study published in the journal PLoS ONE looked at the neurogenetic potential of prolonged curcumin use.

Neurogenesis is the process by which neurons are created in the brain, including in the hippocampus (one of the centers of neural learning).

Researchers led by Z. Zhao out of the Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics, Shanghai, China looked at performance and brain growth in rats after 6 and 12 weeks on a curcumin-fortified diet.

(I hope those sweet rats got something tasty.)

The result?

Curcumin enhanced memory (both spatial and non-spatial), as well as hippocampal cell growth compared to rats in the control group.

But in addition to brain health, curcumin has been linked to:

  • The slowing of prostate tumor growth (S. A. Shah et al. Cancer Research, 2012)
  • Prevention and treatment of tendinitis (C. Buhrmann et al. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011)
  • Increasing the effectiveness of drugs used to fight colon, neck and head cancers (I. Aroch et al. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 2010 and W. M. Abuzeid et al. Archives of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 2011)

Want to find out what else is good for the brain?

We have invited nine neuroscience experts to be a part of the New Brain Science 2012 series.

We’ll discuss not just new findings in neuroscience, but even more importantly, how to apply these findings for peak brain health.

It’s free to listen at the time of initial broadcast, you just have to sign up.

What have you recommended to your patients in order to change their brains? Please leave a comment below. And if you’ve got a recipe that includes turmeric, let us all know here.


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36 Comments

  1. Susan Matthews says:

    Drinking tumeric tea along with reducing sugar and white flour brought my triglyceride levels down from 250 to 132 in three months without meds.

  2. benson says:

    sir i read ur article am so happy to know ABOUT THE USE OF TURMERIC IN OUR DAILY DIET. IS IT USE FULL TO BRAINFUNCTION AND MEMMORY ENHANSEMENT?????

  3. Kristin CNA Pennsylvania says:

    Does turmeric benefit brain cancer.. can it effect the brain like other organs? We know its slowing Alzheimers disease but what about shrinking brain tumors

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  6. India has a rich heritage of medicinal and other knowledge and best practices,,predominantly Ayurveda.(hymns/shlokas about health) In India, people are using turmeric traditionally since centuries in their traditional medicine and even in their Indian curries as in daily nutrition and culinary practices.Thanks to our ancient wisdom and knowledge .
    for recipes of Indian curries ,you can find them by Google search.

  7. Rosemary says:

    I fill capsules with organic turmeric and take with meals. Years of tendinitis cleared up. Hadn’t heard of the necessity of cooking the spice.

  8. Jen Newick says:

    Now I take tumeric daily – by drinking tumeric tea! One tespsoon tumeric, boiling water in your mug and a little honey – Yum. Am trying to get my parents onto it too.

  9. Cathy Battle says:

    This is my husband’s recipe for Curried Oatmeal…eat at your own risk, but he does have perfect health at age 60…Pinch of tumeric, cayenne, ginger, coriander, cardoman, garlic, salt. 1 Tab. of olive oil, 2 Tab. pumpkin seeds, 1x egg, 1/2 Cup rolled oats, 1 Cup water. Cook in the microwave for 4 minutes on 70 power.. enjoy — smells good. I stick with blueberries, walnuts and oatmeal..

  10. Chispa says:

    I have read quite a bit of medical research on using curcurmin (the extract from tumeric) to treat inflammation, but had not read about its potential in brain health. What I understood from the research I read, though, is that using tumeric as a culinary herb isn’t going to be a clinically significant dose. It takes the potency of an extract to be medically effective.

    This may relate more to curing or treating an existing problem, though, than prevention of health problems. What I have not seen studied is how a life-long diet rich in tumeric might prevent or reduce one’s inflammation (mine is from Lyme disease and Babesiosis), or maintain brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimers.

    And when using an extract, whether curcurmin or any other, it is important to know how that extract is obtained from the plant source. Some of the measures, such as using hexane solvent, use damaging chemicals that are then present in the extract.

    Tumeric, like most medicinal/healthy plants, contains more than curcurmin. So perhaps using the tumeric gives more beneficial phytochemicals than just curcurmin. But who can eat a huge serving of tumeric root?

    So this is a complex issue and while it might be useful to use tumeric in your food, even at higher than “recipe” levels, I think it is important to be clear that this isn’t the same as taking an extract as a medicine/herb – both in what it lacks (high dose) and what offers (a wider range of phytochemicals).

  11. Janice says:

    Good Evening Ruth,
    I have been using tumeric almost every day – adding is to soups, salads, etc.
    I have read that it could possibly prevent colon polyps from forming. It is a very desirable spice.

    Thank You fpr all you are doing for preventives health.

  12. Diane Fowler says:

    To add to your information, curcumin has been shown to ameliorate autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, MS and psoriasis, among others (Bright, JJ, Curcumin and autoimmune disease, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:425-51 and others). Certainly worked for me, taking a daily low dose; ten years after a diagnosis of connective tissue disease I have completely pain-free joints. However curcimun, like most herbs with anti-inflammatory effects, has a small effect on clotting time. People taking it along with aspirin or coumarin should be aware of this and, if concerned, have their clotting time tested. It may be possible to reduce the aspirin dosage slightly.

  13. carol boyce says:

    this is a great dish for raw vegans!

    (2) avocados-cut into bite size pieces
    (2) cloves garlic
    (1)T. Mct oil (medium chain triglycerides)
    sea salt-to taste
    lots of tumeric

  14. I had heard about turmeric and bought some but have not used it . Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Enjoying the posts.

  15. I’ve also been using turmeric for many years for osteoarthritis. I’ve recently upped the dose
    to 2-3 capsules daily and have stopped using prescribed anti-inflammatory meds. Inflammation is
    now thought to be at the root of many problems-heart, brain, joints-and turmeric is an excellent
    anti-inflammatory supplement. I also follow Life Extension as they are at the cutting edge of
    research. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will stave off neuro-cognitive problems as I age.

  16. Yam says:

    * spiced not spived

  17. Yam says:

    Well i think you can’t recomend anything for everybody… it just depends on the state of every body… for me i only trust macrobiotic organic food… you will have to adapt the diet depending on how healthy or sick you feel… as sick you feel as plain and less spived your food should be… also is very important to read about the polarity ACID – ALKALINE in our body, as cancer and many other deseases can be caused by high acidity in blood.

  18. Sheri Langer says:

    I have been told, and I have read that Turmeric is also good for people with Diabetes.

  19. herman medow says:

    since the brain system is a part of our human body , some effects of nutrition are shared with
    those in other body systems- e.g. vascular impairments will compromise the biological
    processes that depend on adequate nutrients and oxygen, or promote harmful inflammatory
    processes in the brain

    also, between our head brain and our visceral neural systems we enjoy the benefits of
    non-cognitive governing signals like leptin and ghrelin that “guide” us in eating well without
    overeating- some “foods” disrupt these systems, so we develop conditions like leptin resistance

    would like to hear from biochemists and other scientists knowledgeable about nutrigenomics
    and the chemical messages of different foods that turn on or turn off specific genes – would
    like to hear more from some of the practicing scientists in the paleo diet community -

  20. Rose McGough says:

    Curry Chicken

    2-3 lb Boneless chicken thighs

    1 onion (chopped or sliced)

    ½ cup raisins

    1 cup sour cream

    1 T curry powder

    1/2 t Turmeric

    1 t cinnamon

    1 t ginger

    1/2 t salt

    Pepper

    Brown chicken thighs in butter, add onion, raisins and spices. Saute slightly then add about a cup of water and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes until chicken is done, add sour cream and stir well. Serve over rice.

    Raita (cucumber sauce)

    Finely chop one small cucumber

    Add 2 cups plain yogurt

    2 T minced onion

    2 T fresh chopped cilantro

    2 T lime juice

    ¼ t gr. Cumin

    ¼ t gr. Coriander

    Salt and pepper to taste

  21. roger luscombe says:

    addition to turmeric banana’s recipe – need to add some water in when cooking the bananas – liquid like but solidifies when chilled.
    R.

  22. roger luscombe says:

    Turmeric Recipe, I lived several years in a yoga ashram and one of my favorite breakfasts was turmeric banana’s. Cook ripe bananas in butter & turmeric powder till jelly like & then put in fridge until chilled & solidified- can add a touch of honey in the process if not sweet enough. Very yummy with a bit of yogurt on top.

    Roger

    • Cheryl Roussain says:

      Please contact me via email. I am very interested in discussing your business in Nelson.My brother and family live in Slocan. Do you incorporate MBSR in your consultations? Do you do Mindfulness Based Eating?

  23. Heather MacPhail says:

    Hi
    I am an Indo-Canadian. Turmeric should not be eaten raw. It needs to be cooked. Generally Indians fry it in oil along with other spices before adding the meat or vegetables. However as this is not the first step of Western cooking, it could become a challenge. I have a simple suggestion – Heat 1/2 cup of milk, add 1/4 teaspoon of Turmeric and bring to a boil. Remove from heat source , cool and consume. It is not bad tasting at all!

    Stovetop rather than microwave as it could boil over and the mess is not easy to clean!

    If the taste is too strange you could add smaller amounts to start and work upwards.
    You could also add it to porridges, pasta, Lasagna etc – just don’t tell the Italians!

    OR
    you could make friends with Americans of Indian origin – meal-times are always open house in Indian households! :)

    Cheers
    Heather

  24. Dorothy Wood says:

    I started taking Curcumin over fifteen years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 65.

    The Life Extension Foundation was promoting Curcumin, along with Green Tea, as helpful in breast cancer prevention. My physician was prescribing Tamoxafen but I didn’t like the side effects and opted for Curcumin, Green Tea along, with other supplements — that seemed to work out for me.

    Excited that you are having Dr. Amen next week — I just bought his program thru PBS!

    • hunter says:

      i use the tumeric on everything i cook and in dressings for salads etc…and was drinking pitchers of green tea….til i read about green tea and fluoride….just google that phrase…..and you will see why ive thrown out all green and regular tea and moved to rooiboos tea (which isnt really the tea plant)….tooooo much fluoride in tea!!

      • Lynn says:

        Hunter
        It is sad you have given p such a healthy beverage. There are many tea farms in China and Taiwan that are organic and you will find no fluoride in the tea leaves.

  25. Renee Potik says:

    Dear Ones,
    I’d be interested in the daily amount of tumeric that would be helpful. Is it to be taken with or without food? Are there any other distinctions by which tumeric should be taken and does it interfere with any other medicines/substances?

    Help! AND thanks!

  26. Vishnubhakta Shrinivas Murthy says:

    I am from the Indian sub-continent. I and my ancesters have been using turmeric in our daily food for centuries. I continue to use it in my cooking.
    I understand that it has many valuable properties however, I am not sure what is the optimal dose of the precious food item.
    I would like some insight into daily use in a dose range inf someone has researched and used it.
    Thanks
    Shrinivas

  27. Sarah Gamble says:

    All hail kale!
    It’s deep green – never pale-
    It’s powers never fail
    I eat it by the bale!

  28. Leah Valian says:

    ounds wonderful-thanks for shing your light Ruth!

  29. phil baum says:

    You know the saying that what goes around comes around. I’ve been using turmeric for years to deal with low-level, chronic inflammation.

    I buy it in bulk, a relatively inexpensive way of acquiring it and I use it in my morning smoothie blend along with a host of greens and fruits as part of my plant-based diet.

    What’s amazing is that such simple practices as occasional fasting and the use of readily available medicinal herbs can, according to a host of contemporary scientific studies, help to prevent, reverse, and cure a multitude of degenerative, largely diet related diseases.

    What’s really interesting is that ancient food practices which have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years are being “discovered” and presented as scientific breakthroughs.

    Yes, it’s nice to have the science to reassure us that these widely used traditional herbs such as turmeric are simple ways to deal with contemporary life style, health related issues.

  30. BETH WEBSTER says:

    i’VE BEEN INCLUDING TURMERIC INTO THE HUMMUS THAT I’VE BEEN REGULARLY MAKING AND ENJOYING FOR THE LAST YEAR. I WAS INTRIGUED BY SIR RICHARD BRANSON’S HABIT OF SERVING HIS HUMMUS TO HIS FELLOW STUDENTS WHEN HE SET UP HIS SCHOOL MAGAZINE IN HIS EARLIEST CELEBRITY DEVELOPMENT DAYS.
    Since I have been establishing SAGES as a charitable trust for the last 4 years, I have often served my version of hummus to the various interested parties who have been inspiring us. My hummus is largely quinoa, and with also polenta, amaranth,Israeli couscous + onions, mushrooms and whatever else is about + turmeric, cummin, corianda and what else would you sugggest? The gluten-free quality is helpful but I love the way it is so snack-able and satisfying…I take a tablet of Gingo biloba daily and have planted my own gingko tree – how should I get the most out of their leaves – have not grown any nuts or beans on my tree yet.. I do split up the leaves when I pour my hot steralized water on top of them for my ordinary tea. as well as ginger tea instead of coffee beans in my coffee maker that I keep on all day. WE do value your comments thanks for so much inspiration.

    • Carol Houchin says:

      Beth, the most effective way to use your fresh GINKO leaves is by gently CRUSHING the leaves just before you pour your water over them. Also, be sure to use PURE water that is free of heavy metal and chemicals. Good Health!

  31. Doug Utley says:

    Alzheimers is all around and increasing. It will be interesting to follow rigorous trials of tumeric.

  32. Both of my parents had dementia, and at 72, I was experiencing memory loss. I began a search for possible food-related answers to this vexing new development. Each morning, I take 1 tsp of turmeric in my scrambled eggs, which have been cooked in 3 tblsp of coconut oil. This seems to have helped, and as an academic editor and writing coach, I continue to be able to deal with complicated material.

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