Remarkable results have been recorded in people who have taken curcumin supplements, with dramatic improvements in memory, attention and even mood.
It's been tested on a group of 40 people aged between 50 and 90, who complained of mild memory loss. Half the group was given 90 milligrams of curcumin twice a day for 18 months, and the rest had a dummy pill, or placebo.
During the trial, both groups carried out memory tests, and some also volunteered to have PET (positron emission tomography) scans on their brains to see if plaques, often associated with Alzheimer's disease, were forming.
In memory tests, the curcumin group achieved a 28 per cent improvement over the 18 months, while the placebo group didn't show any enhancement. Brain scans among the curcumin group also showed less plaque activity than in the placebo group.
The researchers, from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), say they now want to test curcumin in a larger group, and include other mental issues, such as depression.
Previous studies have demonstrated curcumin's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, and the UCLA researchers think its positive effects on memory and mood could be because it's reducing inflammation in the brain.