15 January 2008

The Poor Man's TNF Blocker: Curcumin

Enbrel (Etanercept), an anti-arthritis drug, has recently been shown to improve cognition in Alzheimer's Disease patients, via Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) blocking. Even if Etanercept was approved for treating AD, a yearly dose of Enbrel would cost an Alzheimer's patient US $30,000 per year.

Curcumin (turmeric), a root spice used in Indian cooking, also blocks TNF. In addition, curcumin crosses the blood-brain-barrier readily. Prevalence of AD in Indian seniors is less than half the prevalence of AD in North Americans. Combining those facts suggests that Indians may be protected from Alzheimer's Disease by the contents of their diet, possibly via at least one of the same pathways that the drug Enbrel protects against AD.

In some studies in AD model mice, Beta Amyloid levels in mice given curcumin were reduced by 40% compared to levels in mice not given curcumin. Above a certain dose level of curcumin, the amyloid reduction affect of curcumin was diminished, however.

North American researchers have studied curcumin for protective effects in cancer and sepsis, and more recently have begun looking at curcumin for AD prevention. The common pathway for those diseases that is blocked by curcumin is our old friend, the NFkappaB pathway, triggered by TNF, among other things.

With the knowledge that AD is worsened by multiple TNF effects on glial cells in the brain, the importance of locating effective TNF inhibitors grows more urgent.

This article presents several other pharmacological effects of curcumin.

More information about the awakening of western medicine to Curcumin.

Nice article on curcumin by John Smart

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