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If you’re like me and love Indian food, you’re in luck! One of the most common spices in Indian dishes, turmeric (which contains the active ingredient curcumin), has been studied extensively for its ability to improve memory, reduce inflammation, improve overall health and immunity as well as alleviate symptoms of depression.
In my family, we use turmeric almost every single day of the year. Many who aren’t familiar with turmeric as a cooking spice choose to take curcumin as a supplement. My wife and I prefer to use curcumin by adding it to family recipes.
In my practice, there are only a few select supplements I recommend frequently. One of those is turmeric. With several hundred studies documenting its benefits and having experienced them in my personal life, it has earned a permanent place in my cupboard and my medical practice.
Today I’d like to discuss two of the top benefits of curcumin: improving memory and supporting mood.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 40 adults over age 50 were given 180 milligrams of curcumin or a placebo daily for 18 months. Prior to the study, each participant was experiencing significant trouble with memory loss.
Through regular cognitive assessments and brain scans, researchers were able to track any improvements made during the 18-month period.
Those who took curcumin daily experienced significant improvements in both memory and attention abilities. This was in stark contrast to those on the placebo who experienced little to no improvements.
“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” said Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center and the study’s first author.
In a 2014 study done by the Department of Pharmacology at Government Medical College in India, researchers gave participants with Major Depressive Disorder either a daily dose of Prozac, Prozac with curcumin, or curcumin alone for six weeks.
The group taking the combination of Prozac and curcumin experienced the most improvement over the six-week period (77.8 percent) compared to the group taking only Prozac (64.7 percent) or curcumin alone (62.5 percent).
Researchers concluded, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD [major depressive disorder] without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”
Curcumin is a powerful spice that can be beneficial for a variety of health issues. Always work with your healthcare professional to create the best plan for your unique health challenges. You will be most successful in reaching your goals as you work as a team with your doctor and medical advisers.
Find this and other health-promoting articles by Dr. Partha Nandi on his website, Ask Dr. Nandi.
A survivor of rheumatic heart disease, Dr. Partha Nandi M.D., F.A.C.P. grew up to become one of America’s leading patient advocates. His devotion towards educating and empowering others to “Be Your Own Health Hero” stemmed from the empathy and care he received from his father and his first Health Hero, Dr. Chandrasekhar, during his 10 day stay in the hospital and yearlong recovery.
After graduating at the top of his class and obtaining a medical degree at Wayne State University, Dr. Partha Nandi completed his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has been a practicing physician for over 20 years. Throughout his career, Dr. Nandi authored several publications and spoke at TedX, college commencements, charity events, and international conferences, advocating ways to improve the quality and access to health care. He has also collaborated with The World Health Organization and partnered with the Ministries of Health in Jamaica and India.
Dr. Partha Nandi currently practices gastroenterology full-time in Detroit, Michigan, where he holds the title of Chief Health Editor for WXYZ ABC Detroit. He is also the creator and host of a medical lifestyle television show, Ask Dr. Nandi, and a speaker at conferences and premier medical meetings to share his mission and empower everyone “To Be Your Own Health Hero.”