How Does Turmeric Work Against Alzheimer's Disease?

Can turmeric help prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease?


Pharmaceutical treatment drugs such as tacrine, donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine mostly inhibit the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The drug memantine helps regulate glutamate. This is another neurotransmitter brain chemical that helps memory and storing information in the brain. (iv.1359)

Conventional drugs only treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. They can also cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, confusion, and increased incidence of heart attack and stroke(iv.1359)

Turmeric compounds can help keep your brain healthy in many ways. Especially with curcumin, lab and animal studies suggest an array of possible benefits for Alzheimer's patients: (iv.5315063)

Figure IV.10: Overall Benefits of Turmeric Compounds in Alzheimer's Disease

Figure IV.10: Overall Benefits of Turmeric Compounds in Alzheimer's Disease

A Naturally Safe Herbal Option

Most of the studies on the effects of turmeric in Alzheimer's disease have been conducted with curcumin. The results suggest that it may be an effective and safe natural alternative to the few FDA-approved drugs to treat Alzheimer's. Turmeric compounds also don't come with the potentially serious adverse side effects of other anti-inflammatory drugs. This includes NSAIDs, which can cause ulcers or kidney damage). (iv.13545)

Turmeric's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties could help prevent Alzheimer's from developing. Preliminary studies indicate it may also help reverse or slow down the disease. Research shows that turmeric compounds can also counteract conditions (such as diabetes, immune deficiency, and thyroid disorders) that contribute to Alzheimer's disease. (iv.13545)

Essential Nutrients and Antioxidant Polyphenols in Turmeric Can Help

Turmeric has vitamins and a mineral that are essential for brain health and functioning. These include the types of brain functions impaired by Alzheimer's disease (e.g., memory and cell signaling). In addition to curcumin, turmeric also contains many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenol plant compounds. (iv.13-53442-4345)

These turmeric compounds could help prevent or decrease the activation of brain immune cells. This may reduce the toxic chronic inflammation in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease. Some even stimulate production of the acetylcholine (ACh), an essential neurotransmitter for learning and memory. (iv.43442-4345)

In lab, animal, and clinical studies non-curcumin turmeric compounds have shown beneficial effects that could protect the brain in Alzheimer's disease. These include:

Table IV.5: Turmeric Compounds That Can Help Fight Alzheimer's Disease

(an omega-3 fatty acid)

  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (iv.3957)
  • Stimulates production of ACh neurotransmitter(iv.57)
  • Increases absorption of glucose by cells so mitochondria can make cell energy. (iv.57)
  • Precursor to omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are important components in brain cell phospholipids that play a role in signaling and energy production. (iv.64)
  • Studies suggest omega-3 fatty acid intake may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's. (iv.64)
  • Could slow down progression of Alzheimer's and loss of intellectual abilities. (iv.57)




  • Prevents decreased ACh neurotransmitter levels in the brain. (iv.67)
  • Reduces inflammation in the brain. (iv.67)
  • May improve symptoms of impaired ability to think. (iv.67)
  • Lowers blood sugar, stimulates insulin secretion, and enhances absorption of glucose by cells. These activities could help prevent the Alzheimer's-promoting effects of diabetes and insulin resistance in the brain. (68)

(folate; vitamin B9)

  • Folate promotes mitochondria function and production of cell energy(iv.57)
  • High levels of homocysteine activate receptors on brain cells and helps create an overexcited, inflammatory environment. Folate helps prevent this by breaking down homocysteine. (iv.3968)
  • Low levels of folate are associated with more severe brain cell loss. (iv.64)
  • Folate protects memory, and folate deficiency can cause loss of memory and cognitive skills. (iv.5770)
  • Helps delay onset of Alzheimer's if taken with vitamin B12. (iv.57)



(vitamin B3)




(vitamin B1)

  • Essential nutrient that supports mitochondria functioning and helps form cell energy. (iv.3942)
  • Helps brain and nervous system cells absorb glucose(iv.70)
  • Thiamine deficiency causes symptoms of confusion and memory loss. (iv.70)


  • When combined with curcuminoids, blocked production of amyloid-beta proteins and protein aggregates. (iv.81)






Cholinesterase. (iv.3)
Biochemical substance that allows transmission of messages from the brain cells to the body. (iv.32)
Biochemical substance that allows transmission of messages from the brain cells to the body. (iv.32)
An amino acid formed from another amino acid (methionine) we get from foods we eat. (iv.69)

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