Turmeric: Hot Topic of the Year!

If you like yellow curry, you’ve probably tasted turmeric. It’s commonly found in Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, Thai and other Asian cuisines, because it’s the primary spice in curry. In food and manufacturing, turmeric essential oil is used in perfumes and cosmetics, and its resin is used as a flavor enhancer and color component in foods. Its bright yellow color has been a source of natural dyes for centuries, and its root is widely used to make medicine. That’s just for starters.

What all the talk centers around is the more than 600 purported health benefits. Since 1900 B.C. (the time of Ayurveda) turmeric in various forms (sliced, ground, powdered, tinctured, etc.) has been used to address a wide range of conditions. It’s touted to help the skin, pulmonary and gastrointestinal systems as well as the joints. It’s been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer activities.1

What is of particular interest to us is that turmeric is known to protect the brain in a variety of ways, because it is “a potent antioxidant that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.” 2 Some specific brain boosting abilities are attributed to the natural chemical in turmeric called curcumin.

  • It is believed to improve memory and concentration by increasing blood flow and neurotransmitter formation.3
  • It increases the production of serotonin and dopamine, two of the brain chemicals that produce a feeling of contentment or happiness.4
  • It helps increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).5 BDNF is a protein that stimulates brain cell production.
  • The omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA is a major building block of the brain. Its deficiency is believed to be the cause of various neurological disorders. Curcumin enhances DHA synthesis and increases its levels in the brain.6

Although curcumin is known as an active component, the entire root or the whole turmeric plant serves a variety of purposes. For example, there is turmerone, a beneficial compound found in turmeric root. Studies and research have been conducted to show how turmerone stimulates the production of new neurons which can be useful for degenerative brain diseases, traumatic brain injury and stroke.7 Research in these areas with relation to the use of stem cells in the treatment of certain neurological conditions is fairly new, but scientists are making headway with the effects of turmerone on brain disorders.8

Turmeric (root) is the third ingredient in the organic fermented brain support blend that makes up the NikkenWellness Clarity formula.

1 Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H., Curcumin: the Indian solid gold, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:1-75. (PubMed ID 17569205) 

2 Orlando RA, Gonzales AM, Royer RE, Deck LM, Vander Jagt DL, A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization. 2012, PLoS ONE 7(3): e31869. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031869

3 Awad, AS, Cerebrovasc Dis., J Stroke, 2011 Nov 20(6):541-8. Epub 2010 Aug 17.

4 Kulkarni, S.K., Bhutani, M.K. & Bishnoi, M., Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system, Psychopharmacology (2008) 201:435.

5 Ying Su, Baoshan Ku, Lu Tie, Haiyan Yao, Wengao Jiang, Xing Ma, Xuejun Li, Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB, Brain Research Vol. 1122, Issue 1, 2006, pages 56 -64.

6 Wu, A, Noble, EE, Tyagi, E, Ying, Z, Zhuang, Y, Gomez-Pinilla, F, Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders, Biochim Biophys Acta, 2015 May: 1852(5): 951-61. Epub 2014 Dec 27.

7 Hucklenbroich, J. etal, Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo, Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014; 5(4):100.

8 Sun Young Park, Mei Ling Jin, Young Hun Kim, YoungHee Kim, San Joon Lee, Anti-inflammatory effects of aromatic-turmerone through blocking of NF-kB , JNK, and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in amyloid β-stimulated microglia, Intl Immunopharmacology, Vol 14, Issue 1, September 2012, Pages 13-20.