Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Currying Your Way to Health

Please note: This article was originally published 5 years ago. All information stated was correct as of that time. Please -- before reprinting my references -- read the whole article and please stop sending me comments telling me to check MY facts. Somebody has been quoting this article out of context on a site about Elan Pharmaceuticals to stir up trouble. I'm sure Elan and Pfiser and all the other Alzheimer drug companies have lots of new pharmaceuticals that they're testing and plan to make available as soon as possible. This does not detract from the fact that turmeric -- the point of this article in the first place -- has been shown to have beneficial effects.

India has the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s Disease in the world. Studies have shown that in some Indian villages the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease in people over the age of 65 is just 1%. In the United States the incidence is close to 10% and rises significantly as people age. New research reported last month [this article was originally published several years ago] by the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, CA shows that eating curry—or more specifically, turmeric—could be at least one of the factors that makes the difference.

Turmeric is the ingredient that makes curry yellow and it is in almost everything the typical Indian villager eats. The chemical constituent of turmeric that seems to have the preventative or healing effect is called curcumin. A team of researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles has been doing Alzheimer’s research with rats genetically-altered to develop the build-up of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. It was found that middle-aged and elderly rats fed curcumin-rich diets had half the amyloid plaque build-up of other rats. They also outperformed rats fed a normal diet in maze-running tests, and their brain tissue showed significantly less inflammation, another symptom associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Although more tests need to be done to prove the ingredient’s effectiveness in humans, researcher Dr. Sally Frautschy said she believed curcumin had potential as a treatment at least for the prevention of the disease, particularly when combined with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

Turmeric has already been proven to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is widely used in India as a treatment for arthritis, infection, and various kinds of cardiovascular disease. It lowers cholesterol and seems to have a beneficial effect on the liver. New research also shows that it can be used to block the growth of cancer cells.

Researchers say it will be many years before curcumin is thoroughly researched in the West and a drug is manufactured for patient use although turmeric has been used in India’s Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Meanwhile, [this article was printed in 2002] Elan Pharmaceuticals has announced that they have temporarily suspended trials of AN1792, their anti-amyloid drug, because four people in the test group in France developed a serious central nervous system inflammation.

So, should we all start eating curry?

Nobody in the West is recommending it yet but Indian research shows that adding as little as a teaspoon of turmeric to one’s daily diet has a beneficial effect. The only people who might want to avoid turmeric are those with blood clotting problems or those taking anti-coagulant medication. A small amount added to vegetables or eggs makes a nice seasoning. Large quantities, however, taste bitter and can upset your stomach so if you want to experiment with this, don’t overdo it!

This blog is an excerpt from The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving, for sale now through Lulu.com as either a printed book or e-book download.


Dr_bjchilds said...

I have no idea why you included your comment regarding Elan's AN1792 since Elan stopped their trials on this drug over 5 years ago.
Elan now has AAB-001 which is in PIII trials and according to researchers show great promise. In addition to AAB-001, Elan has several other Alzheimer's drugs in various stages of testing.
You really should do research before posting and do not include irrelevent misleading comments.

Sheryl Karas said...

Look at the top of the blog -- This article IS 5 years old! This is an excerpt from a book written whe this information was fresh and new.

Sheryl Karas said...

Dr. Childs, I understand that you've incited people from a message board you are on to inundate me with comments on this topic. While it sure was exciting to see my hit counter go wild I need to interrupt the madness. The comments on this site are well-moderated and abuse will not be accepted.