A spice commonly found in Middle Eastern recipes such as curry could be used to combat dementia, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One.
Curcumin, a spice found in curry, can be used to combat dementia
We recently reported that a synthetic version of curcumin, the substance which gives turmeric its hallmark yellow colouring, inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells.
And in September 2011, researchers claimed that curcumin can work to suppress the biological mechanisms that cause tendonitis.
Now, scientists say that curcumin, which has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, can combat dementia.
Researchers at Linkoping University studied the effects of curcumin on genetically engineered fruit flies with a nervous disorder similar to dementia.
Fruit flies given curcumin lived 75 per cent longer, and also maintained their mobility longer.
However, scientists saw no decrease of amyloid plaques in the brain or eyes of the insects, the cluster of proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Instead, the researchers concluded that curcumin reduced the amount of oligomers in the fruit flies, the precursor forms of amyloid plaques, and accelerated the formation of nerve fibres.
Professor Hammarstrom, of Linkoping University in Sweden, said: 'The results confirm our belief that it is the oligomers that are most harmful to the nerve cells.'
Their findings could help explain why rates of dementia are so much lower among the elderly in India than in the West. Indeed, a recent study showed that Alzheimer’s affects just one per cent of people over the age of 65 living in some Indian villages.
Researchers now hope that drugs with similar properties to curcumin could be used as preventative treatments for dementia.
Patients with private medical insurance often have access to treatments not available on the NHS, so compare health insurance policies online now to ensure you will be eligible for revolutionary drugs in the future.
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