One small dose of turmeric powder was found to improve working memory in pre-diabetic patients.
Interest in turmeric as a tonic and regenerative agent for brain conditions is growing rapidly. Given the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as an alarming uptick in brain cancer and the cognitively impairing metabolic dysregulations associated with type 2 diabetes.
Turmeric and its primary polyphenol curcumin hold great promise as an alternative to pharmaceuticals, none of which have been shown to address nor resolve the root causes of disease.
A recent study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled, “Turmeric improves post-prandial working memory in pre-diabetes independent of insulin“, reveals the unique therapeutic profile of this ancient Indian spice in preventing cognitive impairment linked to pre-diabetes and dementia.
The study enrolled 48 60-year olds with newly recognized yet untreated pre-diabetes. They were randomized to receive either a placebo, turmeric (1,000 mg), cinnamon (2,000 mg) or both (1,000 mg & 2,000 mg respectively), ingested at a white bread (119 g) breakfast.
The researchers observed the participants’ metabolic responses over a 6 hour period for the following parameters:
· Pre- and post-working memory (WM),
· Glycemic and insulin responses
· Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)(measured at 0, 2, 4 and 6 hours):
o amyloid precursor protein (APP),
o γ-secretase subunits presenilin-1 (PS1),
o presenilin-2 (PS2),
o glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3β).
The study results were reported as follows:
Moreover, they observed that body fatness and insulin resistance modulated the effect that turmeric had on improving working memory, “suggesting that the benefits of turmeric might be enhanced where these characteristics were less abnormal.”
While the study found the Alzheimer’s biomarkers “showed active correlations among themselves during the 6 hour study, these did not account for the link between turmeric and WM.” In other words, the researchers surmised that while the spice components access and modulate traditional Alzheimer’s biomarker pathways, no definitive mechanisms of action explaining how they affect working memory could be discerned in the study.
Interestingly, the study intentionally selected whole turmeric powder instead of extracts of curcuminoids, as is normally the case, in order to simulate real-world culinary exposure to the spice:
This study adds to a growing body of literature showing that turmeric/curcumin is both an excellent intervention for pre-diabetic patients (with up to a 100% prevention rate, according to a Diabetes Care study published two years ago), as well as anti-dementia agent.
*Image of “turmeric” via Shutterstock