Monday, 5 November 2012

An unconventional treatment for dementia?

Curry may help combat dementia!Curry may help combat dementia!

Scientists are investigating whether curcumin, a chemical in the spice turmeric, may help to prevent Alzheimer's dementia (AD), the most common form of dementia. Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, may play a role in clearing the brain of a protein called beta amyloid, which is known to be a causative factor in the development of AD.

India, the largest consumer of turmeric-based curries has the lowest rate of AD in the world.

AD and other forms of dementia are perhaps the single greatest health issue facing Australia in the 21st century, with almost 1 million people in Australia predicted to be living with dementia by 2050. A number of researchers and medical practitioners have recently spoken out about their concerns about the reduction in research dollars spent on finding ways to combat this insidious illness, given the morbidity and prevalence of dementia. Many pharmaceutical companies have stopped or reduced their dementia research programs due to the lack of efficacy of treatments to cure the disease or slow its progress.This is despite advances in neuroimaging technology and diagnostic techniques.

As with most illnesses, prevention is better than cure, and scientists are now focusing on finding ways to stop those at risk of developing AD from doing so.

A clinical trial has started at a Sydney retirement village where 100 residents will take supplements of curcumin and be given MRIs. Ralph Martins, a professor of ageing and Alzheimer's disease at Edith Cowan University, who is conducting the research along with the McCusker Alzheimer's Research Foundation, the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Royal Prince Alfred Medical Imaging Services, said that:

"What we currently know as clinical Alzheimer's [dementia] is probably the end stage of disease, so the disease is cooking in people's brain for as much as 20 years and what we're finding in the healthy normal people is that a third of them will have this toxic amyloid in their brain".

While the research is promising, there are a range of other lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise and 'brain training' (or stimulation to keep the mind active) that are also important to consider in trying to prevent all forms of dementia.

Curry is certainly not enough, but it may be a good start!

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be developing dementia, we at ANTS can help. The first step is to read our fact sheet on dementia at:

A thorough neuropsychological assessment is a key component of the diagnosis and management of dementia. If you would like to learn more about what we can offer here at ANTS, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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