Age-related cognitive decline begins as early as in the 20s and 30s, while neurodegeneration, more widely attributed to persons over 65 years of age, continues to grow concurrently with our ageing population.
Curcumin has been thoroughly studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits that permeate through multiple systems of the body, including the brain. And, while anti-inflammatory activity is important in combatting neuroinflammation, curcumin also comprises antioxidant, anti-amyloid and possible anti-tau properties that work synergistically to further protect the brain from neurodegeneration, particularly in older adults.
A recent study utilised a highly-bioavailable form of curcumin dispersed with colloidal nanoparticles, otherwise known as Theracurmin, to test for its effects on mood and memory performance in older adults. The impact on neurogeneration was measured through analysis of amyloid plaque deposition and tau tangles in the brain.
In the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 18-month trial, 40 non-demented, older adults were given 90mg of bioavailable curcumin [n=21] twice daily or placebo [n=19] for 18 months. The results found that daily oral doses of this bioavailable curcumin lead to improved memory and attention performance alongside a decrease in amyloid and tau accumulation in the amygdala and hypothalamus; areas of the brain responsible for modulating mood and memory.
These findings, highlighted through FDDNP-PET signals, extend on previous research that has shown elevations in FDDNP binding levels in people who experience anxiety and depression. Thus, the benefits of curcumin were attributed to the reduction in FDDNP binding levels.
Further to the benefits for mood, curcumin also possesses powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties that can target the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration.
While the current study was performed on non-demented adults, the benefits detected in neuroinflammation, coupled with the reduction in FDDNP levels, posits that Theracurmin should be considered an important preventative for neurological diseases and mental health conditions, particularly for more susceptible and older populations.
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- 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 2018;26(3):266-277. [Full text]