Turmeric Compounds Could Help Treat Encephalomyelitis

Turmeric's anti-inflammatory curcumin compounds may help reduce symptoms of encephalomyelitis caused by vaccine and infection.

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a non-chronic brain condition. It is characterized by abnormal acute inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. (iv.120-123)

Although there are no formal treatment guidelines for ADEM, typically doctors administer 5-7 days of intravenous anti-inflammatory corticosteroids. This is usually followed by a course of oral steroids to further reduce the inflammation and neurological symptoms. Studies suggest the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric's curcumin compounds could help treat ADEM safely, without the adverse side effects and risks of steroid treatment. (iv.4120-123)

Symptoms of ADEM

Initial symptoms of ADEM are similar to encephalitis. They include: (iv.4122-123)

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Neurological Effects of ADEM

The abnormal inflammation that appears in ADEM damages the myelin outer layer of nerve fibers. The neurological symptoms that occur because of this damage are sometimes mistaken for multiple sclerosis (MS). They include: (iv.122-123)

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Inability to move
  • Loss of coordination
  • Tingling and/or numbness
  • Vision loss or blurry vision
  • Weakness and fatigue

Most patients with ADEM will begin to recuperate within days. However, some may take up to six months for full recovery. Occasionally people can have lifelong neurological impairment and may even develop MS. ADEM can also recur. (iv.122)

What Causes ADEM?

Medical experts indicate ADEM is a rare, dysfunctional immune system reaction to an infection or, occasionally, a vaccine. It typically occurs in children. Bacterial and viral Upper respiratory infections with sore throats or cough are most often associated with ADEM. The condition typically occurs 1-2 weeks following an infection, but can happen up to 12 weeks after a vaccine. (iv.122-123)

Evidence of Curcumin's Benefit and How It Works

In an animal study, curcumin reduced the duration and symptom severity of ADEM caused by both vaccine and infection. It did so by inhibiting the inflammatory reactions of immune system cells in the brain. Lab experiments show that curcumin specifically lowers levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine proteins IL-12, as well as the kinase enzymes and transcription factor proteins that produce it. (iv.4)

Usually the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. (iv.123)
Specifically, macrophages and microglial brain cells. (iv.4)
Janus kinase 2 and tyrosine kinase 2. (iv.4)
STAT3 and STAT4. (iv.4)

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