Alzheimer's – Curcumin is a key fighter

Dr Paul Clayton 2002

Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in the curry spice turmeric, has been found to reduce the build-up of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of transgenic mice specially bred to develop the disease.

Dr Lim and her colleagues in various Departments of Medicine and Neurology in California divided 23 tenmonth- old male and female transgenic mice (APPS) into groups which were fed either with low dose curcumin (160 ppm), high dose curcumin (5000 ppm) or no curcumin, for six months.

Brain regions were assayed for beta-amyloid, interleukin-1-beta, oxidised proteins, GFAP (an astrocyte marker) and amyloid precursor. Low and high dose curcumin significantly lowered oxidised proteins and interleukin-1-beta. With low dose curcumin (but not high dose) GFAP, beta-amyloid and plaque burden were reduced by 43-50%. Amyloid precursor in the membrane fraction was not reduced.

The trial was quite small, and no details were given of study design. Nevertheless, curcumin is very non-toxic, and had a significant suppressant effect on the development of Alzheimer’s Disease in the transgenic mice.

Verdict: Yet more evidence (if any more is needed) that Alzheimer’s is a largely oxidative disease, and that antioxidants are the logical and obvious first choice for both prophylaxis and treatment.


Lim, G.P. et al., J. Neuroscience 21(21): 8370-8377, 2001.