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Turmeric: New Treatment for Dementia Patients
- Updated: September 27, 2014
Turmeric is a spice often found in kitchens but according to a new study published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy, it can also be used to treat Dementia. With this condition, brain function begins to deteriorate, typically seen in the form of errors in judgment, impaired language, and problems with thinking.
Researchers who conducted an experiment in laboratory rats discovered that Aromatic (ar-) tumerone, a bioactive compound found in the turmeric spice, actually promoted stem cell growth known as endogenous neutral stem cells (NSC) in the brain. In reviewing the study’s data, scientists believe these structures have the ability to develop into several different forms of brain neurons.
Experts feel this finding could be a huge breakthrough specific to stem cell technology since brain cell growth aids in the recovery of neurodegenerative diseases and damage to include Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke. According to scientists, this is the first study of its kind whereby a particular aromatic chemical has the ability to naturally repair a system in the brain of humans.
Conducted by scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich Germany, the goal was to determine if the bioactive compound found in turmeric could trigger growth of stem cells in fetal rats. In addition to tests being conducted on laboratory equipment, developing animals were also a part of the study.
Thanks to test tube and vitro experiments, the growth of NSC in six concentrations of turmeric-derived chemicals was analyzed by researchers over a three-day period. The outcome was that this substance did in fact boost stem cell growth by as much as 80% although at these NSC levels there was no noted neural cell death.
In addition, experiments were carried out using live rats injected with ar-tumerone. These rats were then monitored with PET scans to determine if the compound had any effect on brain cells. Scientists discovered an increase in mass specific to the hippocampus area of the brain, which is what directs memory formation and storage.
In addition, the subventricular zone, which is just one of two regions known to form new cells in mammalian brains naturally also increased in the rats injected with ar-tumerone. According to Adele Rueger, lead author of the study, although a number of substances have been described as promoting stem cell growth in the brain, there are few drugs that promote the differentiation of these cells into neurons, which is the ultimate goal in regenerative medicine.
Rueger also states that based on the findings of this new study, scientists are now one step closer to achieving the goal.