A spice generally found in curries may now enhance the brain to heal itself automatically and naturally as per the study carried in the medical journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy.
The German research suggests a compound found in turmeric could encourage the growth of nerve cells thought to be part of the brain’s repair kit. Scientists say this work, based in rats, may pave the way for future drugs for strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.
But they say more trials are needed to see whether this applies to humans.Rats were injected with the compound and their brains were then scanned. Particular parts of the brain, known to be involved in nerve cell growth, were seen to be more active after the aromatic-turmerone infusion.
Scientists say the compound may encourage a proliferation of brain cells.
In a separate part of the trial, researchers bathed rodent neural stem cells (NSCs) in different concentrations of aromatic-tumerone extract. NSCs have the ability to transform into any type of brain cell and scientists suggest they could have a role in repair after damage or disease.
Dr Maria Adele Rueger, who was part of the research team, said: “In humans and higher developed animals their abilities do not seem to be sufficient to repair the brain but in fish and smaller animals they seem to work well.”
Turmeric belongs to the same plant family as ginger.The research found the higher the concentration of aromatic-turmerone, the greater the growth of the NSCs.
And the cells bathed in the turmeric compound seemed to specialize into certain types of brain cells more rapidly too.
Dr Rueger added: “It is interesting that it might be possible to boost the effectiveness of the stem cells with aromatic-turmerone.
“And it is possible this in turn can help boost repair in the brain.” She is now considering whether human trials may be feasible.
Dr Laura Phipps at the charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It is not clear whether the results of this research would translate to people, or whether the ability to generate new brain cells in this way would benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease.
“We’d need to see further studies to fully understand this compound’s effects in the context of a complex disease like Alzheimer’s, and until then people shouldn’t take this as a sign to stock up on supplies of turmeric for the spice rack.”
Aromatic-turmerone is the lesser-studied of mainly two compounds in turmeric that may impact the human body. All previous studies reflect the other compound, curcumin, which could minimize inflammation in the body and have several anti-cancer advantages.