Used in Asia for centuries, turmeric is a spice often added to curries and other traditional Indian dishes. Recently, turmeric has become a popular spice in the U.S., popping up on menus at fine-dining restaurants and even being added to coffee and tea drinks, like the trendy “golden” latte.
The possible link between turmeric, mood and memory
New research now suggests that turmeric, also known as curcumin, could have significant health benefits for your brain. Recently, the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published a study that monitored 40 subjects over the course of 18 months. Among those who took a daily curcumin supplement, the researchers noted a substantial improvement in the participants’ memory and attention.
Those involved in the study also reported a mild improvement in their mood. The study proposed that, in people with mild, age-related memory loss, curcumin could improve memory and mood. Additionally, the researchers reported that the participants’ brain scans revealed a decrease in amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus, which control several memory and emotional functions in the brain.
An ancient spice with healing properties
The use of turmeric to treat health issues is not a new phenomenon. Modern interest in the spice began in 1971, when Indian researchers found evidence suggesting that turmeric might contain anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric has long been used as an herbal remedy to treat a variety of health issues, such as mental health problems. In Ayurveda — an ancient Indian health and wellness system that many continue to practice today — turmeric is believed to strengthen the overall energy of the body. Turmeric can also be used to relieve gas, dispel worms, improve digestion, aid in regulating menstruation, dissolve gallstones and relieve arthritis.
Health experts aren’t exactly sure how curcumin impacts one’s memory and mood, but the spice’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties could have something to do with it.
Potential benefits of adding turmeric to your diet
While the use of turmeric is becoming more popular in the U.S., more research needs to be done on how exactly curcumin affects the brain. However, adding turmeric to your diet likely won’t cause you any harm, as the spice is non-toxic and generally considered safe to consume for the general population.
If you’re interested in taking a curcumin supplement, talk to your doctor about how much you should take. A health professional can also help you determine if taking curcumin might impact the other medications you’re taking, or if turmeric could worsen any of your medical conditions.
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