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Research Alert: Curcumin to spice up your memory

Research Alert: Curcumin to spice up your memory


What is Curcumin?

Have you heard of turmeric? It's a well known and widely used Asian spice, and curcumin is a major component of turmeric. Curcumin is distinct with its bright yellow colour, and in fact; it is used in the food industry as natural food colouring. 


Why is Curcumin special?

Curcumin has potent antioxidant activity and has also been used in herbal medicine to help people to relieve joint inflammation. However, the world of science has shown new promising health benefits of this ingredient. Researchers have found that curcumin may help enhance cognition and mood in the older population (Cox et al., 2014; PMID: 25277322).


What did the study show?

In a good quality clinical study using healthy older participants (ages 60 – 85) in a four week study, researchers investigated both acute effects (a few hours after taking the supplement)  and longer term effects (after 4 weeks) of curcumin (in a solid lipid form). Researchers observed and recorded results for cognitive function including memory, mood tests, and several biomarkers in the blood (including cholesterol). What happened was that participants in the study showed significant improvements in short term memory and attention versus a placebo group. Additionally, participants taking curcumin had significantly improved their memory and mood after four weeks. Curcumin also had effects on cholesterol – it significantly reduced total and LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) in participants taking the supplement versus those taking the placebo. Additional studies over longer terms may uncover further benefits of curcumin on aging. It will be nice to see in the future what further emerging health benefits will be uncovered for this functional ingredient!