Curcumin Improves Memory And Mood, Study Says


Source: University of California, Los Angeles

Summary: According to the results of a new study – Daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin, the substance that gives Indian curry its bright color, improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss.


Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical found in turmeric. It has previously been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in lab studies. It also has been suggested as a possible reason that senior citizens in India, where curcumin is a dietary staple, have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive performance. So lovers of Indian food, give yourselves a second helping. Researchers from the UCLA, in a new study, found that daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss. The researchers examined the effects of curcumin supplement on memory performance in people without dementia, as well as curcumin’s potential impact on the microscopic plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The research findings were published in the journal American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical found in turmeric

Turmeric (pictured) contains curcumin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 40 adults between the ages of 5090 years who had mild memory complaints. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 90 mg of curcumin twice daily for 18 months. Thirty of the volunteers underwent PET scans, to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in their brains at the start of the study and after 18 months. The people who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities, while the subjects who received placebo did not. In memory tests, the people taking curcumin improved by 28% over the 18 months. Those taking curcumin also had mild improvements in mood, and their brain PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus than those who took placebos.

Dr. Gary Small said, “Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression and further added, “These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.”


More Information: Gary W. Small et al, “Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial”, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2017.10.010 


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