Turmeric curry spice could help brain healing

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New research suggests that a spice commonly used in curries may be able to help the brain heal itself.

A report which has been published in Stem Cell Research and Therapy, has found that a compound present in turmeric may be suitable for the repair of the brains of those suffering with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

After laboratory tests done on rats, a German team has stated that aromatic turmerone promoted the generation of brain stem cells and their development into neurons.

The rats were injected with the compound and their brains scanned by the scientists based at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich.

The team examined the effect of aromatic turmerone on endogenous neutral stem cells (NSCs), which are found in adult brains. NSCs develop into neurons and have a critical role to play in the recovery from neurodegenerative diseases.

The team discovered that the turmeric compound pushed the generation of rat foetal NSCs up by around 80%, and also increased the speed at which it matured. In living rats, the aromatic turmerone injections resulted in the expansion of two main brain regions where neuron growth is known to occur.

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Dr Laura Phipps, said this early-stage study has highlighted the effects of the compound in rat brains, but they are still a long way off from determining if the effect will be the same in humans. She said it is not clear if new brain cell generation in this manner would be beneficial to people suffering with Alzheimer’s.

She added that further studies need to be done to determine the full effects of the compound in a complex disease like Alzheimer’s and these results should not push people to stock up on turmeric.

Image Credit: Steve Browne & John Verkleir

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