The health benefits of turmeric have long been known. A natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and cancer-killer, turmeric has been touted “a miracle spice”. The antioxidant curcumin in turmeric has been proven responsible for all these characteristics. Because of this, curcumin supplements have become popular. Everything is a sum of its parts, however, and no one component should be singled out as the only powerful phytochemical.
There’s more to Turmeric than Curcumin.
Research published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy explored another compound found in turmeric that also seems miraculous: aromatic-turmerone (ar-turmerone). Ar-turmerone is what gives turmeric its smell and flavor.
Tumeric and your Brain
Turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation and regeneration. The basic problem in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s is that neurons in the brain stop talking to each other. Eventually, these essential cells weaken and die. Turmerone revitalizes neurons and promotes the creation of new stem cells. Plus, the compound promotes cell differentiation to allow stem cells to become new neurons (1).
This is accomplished is by turmeric’s formidable anti-inflammatories properties. Reducing neural inflammation and stimulating new stem cell production is especially vital for people recovering from a stroke, which damages brain cells by cutting off blood supply (2).
Additionally, turmeric’s antioxidants have been found to reverse the effects of damage caused by pharmaceuticals, particularly in the treatment of schizophrenia. Commonly-prescribed antipsychotics often cause involuntary muscle movements and severe behavioral changes. One study found that when treated with curcumin, the effects of the motor disorder tardive dyskinesia were reversed (3).
Turmerone not only promotes neural regeneration, with implications for diseases like Parkinson’s, but it also is an anti-depressant (4).