Turmeric, a key ingredient in the kitchen, can be used in treating a popular memory related problem called dementia, a new study has proposed.
Dementia is a health condition when the patient starts losing its brain function. The disease can affect the person’s skills for thinking, judgment and language.
With the help of an experiment on the rats, the researchers found that the a bioactive compound, called Aromatic (ar-) turmerone, which is found in the spice helped in promoting the stem cells growth in the brain known as endogenous neutral stem cells (NSC). According to the scientists, these structures can develop into several forms of brain neurons.
The findings may serve as a major breakthrough in the stem cell technology as the growth of brain cells could aid in the recovery from serious problems like neurodegenerative diseases and damage including Alzheimer’s, dementia and stroke.
Scientists say this is first of its kind of study to show the effect of the aromatic chemical on natural repair system in brains of human.
The study, which was conducted by the scientists at Germany’s Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich, tried to find out how the aromatic chemical influenced the growth of the stem cells in fetal rats. Scientists conducted the tests on both in laboratory equipment as well as in developing animals.
With the help of the vitro or test tube experiments, the researchers analysed the growth of NSC in six different concentrations of the turmeric-derived chemical for three days. The researchers found that the substance led to the increase of the growth of stem cells by up to 80 percent during the study period. However, there was no effect on neural cell death at these NSC levels.
The researchers also carried experiment on the live rats by injecting with ar-turmerone and monitored the effects of the compound on brain cells with the help of PET scans. Scientists found that the rats’ hippocampus increased in mass. Hippocampus is a part of the brain that directs the formation and storage of memories. Moreover, the subventricular zone, one of only two brain regions known to normally form new cells in mammalian brains, also increased in rats on which study was performed.
Study lead author Adele Rueger 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. The study’s findings have taken us a step closer to achieving this goal.”
The findings of the study have been published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy.