In this blog, I hope to shed some light about what happens in the brain in the Alzheimer’s Disease and cover some of the latest research about Curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease and brain health to find out if it can help cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Do you know anybody with Alzheimer’s? Most of us probably do since more than five million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease. Living with this disease and the cognitive decline that comes with it is challenging and heartbreaking for the family members.
What happens in a healthy brain?A healthy human brain has a network of tens of billions of neurons, special cells that pass information to other cells. Communication between neurons is accomplished by transmission of electrical and chemicals signals across a small gap called the synapse. Essentially this process is where our cognition happens. The synapse is also where Alzheimer’s disease happens. When two neurons are communicating, they release neurotransmitters, often referred to as the chemical messengers of the body. They also release other substances, one of them is amyloid beta protein (Aβ). Amyloid beta is normally cleared away and metabolized by microglia. Microglia cells are our resident immune cells and are sometimes referred to as the Janitor cells.
What happens to the brain in Alzheimer’s?In some brains, the Amyloid Beta (Aβ) starts to accumulate in the synapse, pilling up and aggregating to become amyloid plaque. Most neuroscientists believe that Alzheimer’s disease begins when the Amyloid plaque begins to appear in the synapses. Some of the 40-year-old around us already have this situation in their brains now. The thing is, it takes about 15-20 years of amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain to reach a certain tipping point. After this tipping point there is a molecular cascade and just then the major signs of the cognitive decline associated with the disease can be noticed. At the molecular level, the microglia (the Janitor cells I mentioned above) become hyperactive and trigger inflammation in the brain. These cells will eventually nib away the actual synapses themselves. As the level of Amyloid Beta (Aβ) reaches the tipping point, there is a rapid spread of another protein called tau throughout the brain which then blocks the neuron’s transport system and harms the synaptic communication between neurons. All these processes cause neurons to injure and die throughout the brain, the connection between networks of neurons may break down and many brain regions begin to shrink.
Is there a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s?Currently available treatments can slow down some symptoms but none of the medication available stops the disease itself. Many scientists focus now on preventing Alzheimer’s disease by keeping the Amyloid plaque from reaching the tipping point. As Lisa Genova said in her Ted talk about the subject: “Think of Amyloid Plaque as a lit match. At the tipping point, the match sets fire to the forest. Once the forest is ablaze, it doesn’t do any good to blow out the match. You have to blow out the match before the forest catches fire”. Research is still evolving, but the evidence is strong that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by making key lifestyle changes, including participating in a regular physical activity, staying socially engaged and maintaining good diet and heart health.
Can Curcumin Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?Did you know that senior citizens in India, where turmeric is a dietary staple, have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive performance? While there are no clinical studies that suggest that Turmeric or Curcumin can cure Alzheimer’s disease, preclinical evidence suggests that curcumin might offer several cognitive benefits:
- Curcumin is anti-oxidant – In recent research studies, antioxidants have been found to reverse some of the symptoms of aging, such as cognitive impairment. The brain has a very high level of metabolic activity, and therefore uses an abundance of oxygen. The high level of oxygen breakdown makes the brain susceptible to free radical attack. One example of adverse conditions resulting from the free radical attack on the brain is memory loss. By providing the cells with strong anti-oxidant like in Curcumall®, we can help the body protect itself from the damage of the free radicals.Click To Tweet
- Curcumin is anti-inflammatory – brain inﬂammation has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Studies have shown that inflammation causes reduction of birth of new cells and accelerates the naturally-occurring death of existing cells in the brain, therefore by consuming strong anti-inflammatory like Curcumall®, we can help the body with the process of the birth of new brain cells.Click To Tweet
- Curcumin can reduce the levels of amyloid beta (Aβ) – Studies show that curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has the potential to help clear the amyloid plaques.
- Curcumin can improve memory – In a recent study, results revealed that the subjects who took curcumin twice daily demonstrated a 28 percent improvement in memory tests over the course of the study, while those who took the placebo showed no significant memory improvements.Click To Tweet