Turmeric is the spice world’s current wunderkind. A casual observer might think it was a mythological nectar, said to heal a vast array of diseases, make you smarter and give you the immune system of a god. But with so much promised, what can really be real?
Good question. While a full answer is beyond the scope of this post, let’s take a look at one of the most promising areas of research: the effect of consuming turmeric on your brain.
If you’ve been paying attention to turmeric news these last few months, you’ve likely heard of curcumin. Curcumin is one of the most active and bioavailable compounds in turmeric root, indicated for treating depression, anxiety and dementia. For instance, though the mechanisms aren’t clear, studies increasingly point to turmeric’s role in preventing and reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s. (1)
Another bioactive compound, aromatic turemone (commonly shortened to ar-turmerone), is showing even more promising results. Studies show that ar-turmerone stimulates stem cell proliferation and the formation of new brain cells in rats. These results manifested not only in vitro (i.e. in test tubes), but in the living rats themselves. (2) This suggests that fresh turmeric root, rich in ar-turmerone, can jumpstart neurogenesis – or the formation of new neurons, increasing memory capacity and fighting senility.
It doesn’t matter where you get either of these compounds from, as long as the source is fresh and hasn’t been denatured by massive processing. Good options include fresh pressed juice and ginger shots, for example.
What does this mean for you? Well, researchers can’t promise turmeric shots will build you a whole new brain – that’s what the cyborg revolution is for. But drinking cold pressed juice or even trying a periodic detox juice cleanse could be a great way to get more of those bioactive compounds into your daily brain-protecting regime. So don’t wait – your brain is counting on you.
(1) Mishra S and Palanivelu K. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008;11(1):13–19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/. 2017.08.01.
(2) Hucklenbroich J, et al. Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 2014;5:100.