Q: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become interested in keeping my mind focused and healthy. Are there any supplemental ingredients that can help with that?
A: Absolutely. One of the best natural ingredients for brain health is curcumin from turmeric (Curcuma longa). It’s a powerful fighter against inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which may be at the root of cognitive decline, depression and other conditions.
A major factor in Alzheimer’s disease is the formation of plaques or tangles of proteins in the brain. These clusters block neurons from communicating with each other and may be caused, in part, by inflammation and oxidation. Anti-inflammatories have been investigated to see if they can help slow this process.
An in vitro UCLA study found that curcumin outperformed ibuprofen and naproxen at reducing neuron-blocking beta-amyloid plaques.
Depression can be linked to inflammation as well. Clinical research has examined the benefits of curcumin for individuals suffering from the condition, and the results are impressive. In one clinical study, curcumin performed effectively the same as the prescription drug Prozac at reducing symptoms of major depressive disorder. It did very well when combined with the drug, too.
A curcumin used in promising studies, BCM-95, was combined with turmeric essential oil, which enhances its availability in the body. Turmeric essential oil is also a source of turmerones, compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory strength of their own.
Other research has discovered that curcumin boosts levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps create neurons and keeps the brain resilient and able to learn new things.
Given the strong evidence, curcumin may be a critical compound for maintaining a healthy mind.