Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wham: Curry ingredient as possible aid in Alzheimer's

Researchers reporting in in the July 16 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have isolated bisdemethoxycurcumin, the active ingredient of curcuminoids (a natural substance found in turmeric root) that may help boost the immune system in clearing the plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. This proves to be additional support for the belief that curcumin, a curry ingredient, could have a beneficial action on Alzheimers.

Using blood samples from Alzheimer’s disease patients, researchers found that this isolated chemical from curry boosted immune cells called macrophages which then went on to clear amyloid beta, the peptide responsible for the plaque in the brain. In addition, researchers identified the immune genes associated with this activity.

This important study provides more insight into the role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease and points to a new treatment approach. Researchers say that it may be possible to test a patient’s immune response with a blood sample in order to individualize treatment. The work also suggests a new drug development approach for the disease that differs from the amyloid-beta vaccine. The new approach relies on the innate immune system, which is present at birth rather than on antibodies produced by B cells, which is a later developed part of the active immune system.

A number of curcumin extracts are available today as dietary supplements. The authors of this study, however, did not make any recommendations about the value of adding that supplement to the daily regimen. It is interesting to note, however, that where curry is a daily staple (India) the Alzheimer's rates are among the world's lowest.

An excellent article about curcumin and previous research with Alzheimer's Disease is linked to the headline of this article, which may interest some readers in starting on curcumin as a daily dietary supplement.


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