Since 2001, over a dozen studies have been conducted concerning the benefit of turmeric for memory problems. Many of the studies were conducted using animal models, which means that clinical trials would need to be conducted before authorities like the US Food and Drug Administration would allow a health claim concerning this benefit.
But since there is no doubt that the plant is safe, because it is also a food, and other benefits are known to be associated with eating it, there’s no reason not to try it. Here’s what the studies that have been conducted to date have told us.
One of the many negative side effects of HIV infections is a condition called HIV associated dementia, or HAD, which is accompanied by impaired memory and problems with spatial relationships. A study conducted in China using laboratory animals infected with the disease indicates that that dietary supplementation of curcumin (the active component of turmeric) may help treat and prevent HAD.
A similar study was conducted in Turkey, only this time the condition being studied was a type of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers concluded that taking turmeric for memory loss and cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s could be beneficial.
Another study conducted in South Africa indicates that there is benefit for nerve damage and cognitive impairment caused by lead exposure. At least eight other studies have been published concerning the benefit for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s and for reversing the effects of heavy metal exposure.
The benefits of turmeric for memory are due to the anti-oxidant and chelating activity of the nutrient. As you may know, antioxidants neutralize free radicals and repair oxidative damage caused by them. There are many different antioxidants in plant foods. Some of the most potent include the catechins found in green tea, the resveratrol found in red grapes and the proanthocyanidins found in grape seeds.
Some of the plant extracts that have been recommended for memory and brain function include green tea and gingko biloba. But, more and more research supports the use of resveratrol, proanthocyanidins and curcumin.
The advantage of curcumin and resveratrol is that they have chelating activity. The means they break down heavy metals and help the body rid itself of them. It is believed that exposure to small amounts of lead, mercury and other heavy metals throughout a person’s life may lead to age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
So, you might consider taking resveratrol and turmeric for memory problems, but you need to be sure that the supplement is well designed. If it does not include an enteric coating, the nutrients will not be absorbed into the bloodstream. If they don’t get into your bloodstream, they cannot provide the benefits to the brain.
Some supplements contain a number of different antioxidants and chelating agents, instead of just a single one. It makes more sense from a financial standpoint to get as many antioxidants as you can for your money.
More studies may be coming concerning turmeric for memory. One is underway concerning Alzheimer’s. I’m sure the results will be positive.