A new study has found a combination of supplements containing vitamin D3 and curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, may help shield the brain from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric is a perennial herb related to ginger which can be found throughout tropical South Asia. It has been known by alternative medicine practitioners for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
A team of scientists from UCLA, UC Riverside and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute found the combination acts by stimulating the immune system to remove amyloid beta from the brain.
Amyloid beta is a peptide that forms the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is thought to be responsible for the neurodegeneration that accompanies the disease.
The researchers analyzed blood samples from Alzheimer’s patients and from healthy control subjects to isolate monocyte cells, which transform into macrophages that spearhead the immune system’s waste removal process.
Their results suggest curcuminoids boosted the surface binding of amyloid beta to macrophages, and vitamin D stimulated the absorption of amyloid beta in macrophages in a majority of patients.
Dr. Milan Fiala, a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA expressed hope these natural compounds may open new possibilities in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
He added, "since vitamin D and curcumin work differently with the immune system, we may find that a combination of the two or each used alone may be more effective, depending on the individual patient."