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Can This Common Herb Reverse Brain Damage?

A recent study from Germany demonstrates regeneration in the brain cells of live rats using treatments with turmeric.

Copyright_kenishirotie_123RFStockPhotoTurmeric is a close relative of ginger and is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs. Many past studies have focused on the curcumin, the phytocompound that gives turmeric its bright color, but the new study reports that the compound, aromatic-turmerone, or “ar-turmerone,” appears to induce regeneration in brain cells, both in vitro, in neural stem cells (NSC), and in live rats.

Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, grew neural stem cells from rats and treated the cells in vitro with six different concentrations of ar-turmerone over 3 days.

At certain concentrations, ar-turmerone was shown to increase NSC proliferation by up to 80%.

Researchers then tested the effects of ar-turmerone in live animals. After administering the turmeric, they used non-surgical imaging techniques to look at brain cells. They found that, in the brains of rats injected with ar-turmerone, two sites where the growth of neurons is known to occur had increased in size.

One of the researchers, Adele Rueger, speaking to Science Daily, said, “While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal.”

The research may have interesting implications for Alzheimer’s patients. More studies are needed to determine whether the effects of turmeric can help human patients with brain regeneration.

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