Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer’s disease with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia

A blog reader alerted me to a Japanese Alzheimer’s case study published in October 2012. Here is the link to the abstract in PubMed: http://goo.gl/66V82. I hadn’t come across it, since I don’t really monitor curcumin for anything other than myeloma, MGUS or SMM. But I thought it was extreeeeeeeeemely interesting and decided to post about it today.

The full study, available for free online (just click here: http://goo.gl/mX5OQ), tells us that turmeric, not curcumin, was used in this study. The three Alzheimer’s patients involved in the study were given a daily dose of 764 mg of turmeric (= containing to 100 mg of curcumin, according to the authors). And even on such a tiny dose (of TURMERIC, to boot), the spice had a huge impact on their quality of life (QOL)…nothing short of amazing, in fact…For example, after a year of the turmeric treatment, they began to recognize family members…One woman started singing and laughing and knitting again…And so on.

You can read the patients’ stories in the full study. Impressive!

I do have a question, though: I wonder how much these (and other) patients would improve if they were given a higher dose of straight curcumin (not turmeric, i.e.)? Now that would be super interesting to know!!!

***Note: you will come across a few typos and mistakes in the full study. There is a huge one, for example, at the end of the Discussion part, where the authors write “impair” instead of “improve.” Obviously, they meant to write that curcumin improves cognitive function, not that it impairs it! However, in spite of its occasional creative use of the English language, the study is clear enough… 🙂


  1. I am going to ask my mom’s nursing home if they’ll start her on this. I just need to find the right product and get it shipped to them.

    If it were your mom, would you start her on 1g of curc (like we take) a day?

  2. Beth, there are differences –

    A researacher at UCLA kindly responded to my e-mail questions with these comments:

    “Hi. Yes, the UCLA study did not use Longvida, but used Sabinsa .
    Anything that keeps curcumin free will get it into the brain. That is the most critical factor, but because curcumin is glucuronidated sulfated in the blood, it would not get into the brain if administered unformulated. The development of Longvida was based on maximizing free curcumin (eventually it gets tagged by glucuronides on first pass metabolism by liver, but more of it is absorbed free which allows immediate transfer to brain.’

    The confusion with most people is with absorption. It is well absorbed but not necessarily bioavailable to all tissues because of it being tagged. Brain bioavailability is the same as BBB permeability _ so when people use bioavailable they should specify the tissue they are talking about.

    Glucuronidated curcumin is fine for arthritis! Gluc Curcumin is probably not so good for myeloma I don’t think it would penetrate. Yes, Longvida both 1- has longer half life of free curcumin and 2- probably is more bioavailable to the tumor.”

    When I told her I was trying the Longvida brand, because it claims to be most suitable for Alz. prevention and repair, she wrote:
    Good luck.. Please take the longvida on as much of an empty stomach as possible and wait at least a half hour…. Sometimes this isn’t possible because it is hard for people to manage all their meds and if they are already nauseated.. In that case take it with a small volume of juice or e.g. a smoothie with fat (eg. almond milk/ whole milk/ whole yogurt…Fat helps!

    Curcumin does not cause nausea but it is just difficult for people who feel sick to take their meds!

  3. Hello all. We observed the same anecdotal results having first started giving my then 80 year old mother a quarter teaspoon of tumeric powder stirred into her hot milky tea, three times a day starting in 2010. We noted a reduction in her wandering, in her packing her belongings to “go away back home”, her anger/ aggression and in her crying/despair. She has maintained her language skills (she still speaks 3 languages fluently and sings songs from memory, and still has a sense of humour) although she can no longer read. She can still feed herself and still sits upright in chair or at the dining table.

    She however, still seems confused about her surroundings and needs to be guided in her movements around the home, be helped to dress. wash. go to the toilet etc. She remembers most people if she recognises their name or their voice and/or someone explains who they are.

    While she is under the supervision of a neurologist who treats her with various drugs including Aricept, we noticed a slowing in decline in mental function as evidenced by language and logic for about 2 years. However due to her other ailments she has been hospitalised at least 6 times in the past 3 years and we notice that each incident seems to set her back quite a bit. I am convinced though, that the turmeric and good home care have helped her bounce back quicker than would otherwise have been the case. Her test scores have recently declined sharply but she is still mobile and takes a routine walk around the house twice a day aided by a caregiver.

    Thanks for making the information available and I hope many other families will be assisted through the use of turmeric by AD patients.

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