What if there was something sitting in your pantry that had the potential to naturally boost your brain power?
Turmeric, the golden-orange spice commonly used in curries, may play a role in enhancing the brain’s ability to build new cells—a process called neurogenesis—according to a group of German researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine. The key appears to be a compound found in turmeric, aromatic turmerone, that previous studies have shown can reduce inflammation in the brain.
This most recent study expands aromatic turmerone’s benefits to include new cell growth. In fact, the compound was capable of enhancing neural stem cell growth in rats by as much as 80 percent, in some cases.
Study authors admit that, while their results underscore the potential brain benefits of turmeric, there’s still a long way to go before any science-backed argument for suggesting the spice as a therapy for those with conditions that kill brain cells, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.
An ancient remedy
Turmeric contains another potentially beneficial component: curcumin.
The health advantages of curcumin are perhaps the world’s worst kept therapeutic secrets. The compound has been used for millennia by Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures for a variety of purposes, from alleviating inflammation and other aches, to cooking, to ceremonial rituals.
More recently, scientific studies have identified curcumin—an antioxidant—as being potentially beneficial for people with arthritis, atherosclerosis, depression, different forms of cancer, dementia (including Alzheimer’s) and high cholesterol.
Despite these positive reviews, the formal evidence regarding curcumin and turmeric is not yet strong enough to warrant a formal dosage recommendation, but it certainly can’t hurt to use the tangy powder to spice up some of your dishes.
Since the amount of curcumin in turmeric is relatively small, try choosing a recipe that also contains black pepper and fat, two ingredients that can enhance the curcumin’s bioavailability—your body’s ability to absorb the compound
Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Leafy Greens
- Melt coconut oil in medium saucepan.
- Add spinach/kale and cook until wilted.
- In a separate bowl, combine eggs, salt and pepper, paprika and turmeric. Whisk vigorously.
- Pour egg/spice mixture into saucepan and mix until greens and eggs are thoroughly cooked.
- (People with sensitive taste buds can add a few ounces of feta cheese to cut the heat of the dish.)