Today, it’s going to be about boosting cognitive and neuroprotective properties of our brain! Turmeric (Curcuma longa), comes up again and again in research of neuroprotectants. The effects of curcumin include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. It has been used in the cuisines of Iran, Malesia, India, China, Thailand and Polynesia. It’s goldish yellow and if you ever had curry, it’s inside it too.
It has been used by the cultures of India and China for its medical properties. Most usual illnesses treated by Curcuma longa were dermatologic disease, infection, stress and depression.
Turmeric has a compound called curcumin, assumed to be the effector of the health benefits. This is where it’s getting tricky. With a lot of these plant medicines of any sort, it’s usually tricky. Why? Plant is a complex organism with a lot of compounds and you can’t simply test them all in the trials and research. We can usually see some compounds which are probably doing majority of the effects, but there are surely some other ones (compounds) which goes with the plant and have synergic effects, which are sometimes damn important.
Why don’t we just take the whole plant and see? Well, some people are doing that, but they usually have to do a lot of work in developing or growing the plant or making the extract so it’s in the quality that is needed. Sometimes we can see even major differences in studies which shows different extracts of the same plant. With turmeric, it would be best to eat it fresh, but that’s not very good for a research in terms of dosage and so on. Scientists usually want to isolate the compound and see if that’s the one which is causing the benefits, to understand how it works any why. Though you are always losing something if you don’t take the whole plant.
As I stated before, turmeric has some cognitive enhancing properties. It’s been studied in mice with some model of stress disorder. Curcumin improved their learning and memory, which is great! It’s not exactly known how it works in the brain. More ways of improving cognition in this article and this one.
Curcumin is activating a pathway called Nrf2. This pathway, shows time and time again in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes. It’s the main reason why curcumin protects us from neurodegenerative and many other diseases. It is basically cleaning our body and the brain from oxidative stress, keeping the cells nice and healthy.
Reducing Stress and Depression
How would turmeric could reduce stress? Well there are two mechanism that I know of. It’s about activating Nrf2 pathway again, which then reduces inflammation. That is the main reason for reducing stress and depression. Stress can also worsen your memory and other cognitive functions. How and why we have high inflammation is in this article. Now I will at least paint a picture of how it works.
Two mechanisms of reducing stress and depression by lowering inflammation.
- Reduces inflammation means that we have more serotonin available. Serotonin plays a role in our mood and happiness. How? If we have high inflammation, tryptophan which is a precursor of serotonin, won’t turn into it, but turns into kynurenine instead. That is one mechanism – less of serotonin.
- Secondly, kynurenine travels to the location of inflammation and then turns into quinolinic acid, which then passes blood brain barrier and acts as neurotoxin!
How to get it inside you?
One gram of fresh turemric is equivalent to 10 grams of powder form – from a point of view of how much of curcumin is going to end up in your body. How is that possible? Curcumin is hard to absorb. That’s exactly where fresh turmeric is powerful, it’s full of essential oils (volatile oils), which then draw curcumin inside us. There is some oil in the powder form too, but far less. Use some oil and/or black pepper which helps with the absorption of the powder form too. You can add curcumin to almost any of your meals.
Getting into baseline state
Treat your body and the mind as they deserve to, because they are connected in a lot of ways! I am sure you can quickly get into balance and see the results for yourself. You are not going to be a superhuman, but you might get into a normal state. What do I mean by that? Well a lot of people these days just feel tired, sleepy, not able to exercise and so on, getting into a normal state could and should allow you to be productive and active during the day. It’s surprising that many people don’t know about their “normal” or “natural”, sort of a baseline state. You can check my articles on how and by what means you can help yourself to do that, hopefully you can even get above the baseline, feel and perform better!
Here are the articles:
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