Early research offers hope that two regularly available compounds – used together – may combat Alzheimer’s disease.
The research comes from Dr. Milan Fiala at UCLA. Dr. Fiala is a leading researcher in the field of Alzheimer’s. He’s a graduate of the University of Geneva, Switzerland with an MSc from Harvard. In 2008, he was given the “Alzheimer Award” by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
He’s convinced that curcumin may fight Alzheimer’s disease. Dozens of studies support his theory. Dr. Fiala has spent the last 10 years testing this out in the lab. He’s published several studies that show it protect brain cells from dying.
Curcumin, as you may know, is a heavy ingredient in Indian curries. People there often consume it on a daily basis. Alzheimer’s is very rare in India. In fact, one study showed that it occurs in less than one percent of people there. So his research has plenty of support.
Now Dr. Fiala made another big breakthrough. One that combines curcumin with a safe vitamin – a combo he believes delivers powerful protection.
Taking Science Forward
Dr. Fiala’s earlier work shows that a protein called amyloid-beta accumulates in our brains, causing plaque to build up over time. This breaks down mental function and leads to Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Fiala was the first to show that curcumin can combat this. He found that the spice helps the immune system remove this protein from our brains.
He took blood samples from six patients with Alzheimer’s disease and from three healthy control patients. He isolated specialized cells called macrophages. These are the “cleanup crew” of the human immune system. They go through the body, swallowing up waste products. Normally, they remove abnormal amyloid-beta protein from brain cells.
But as Dr. Fiala showed… they don’t work well in Alzheimer’s patients. Compared to those in the healthy control patients, they are almost useless.
He treated these macrophages with curcumin for 24 hours. They dramatically improved. The curcumin boosted their cleaning power, allowing them to remove the protein that leads to Alzheimer’s.
“Curcumin improved ingestion of amyloid-beta by immune cells in 50 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Fiala. “These findings demonstrate that curcumin boosts the immune system of specific Alzheimer’s disease patients.”
But what about the other 50 percent? Well, that’s where nature’s combination comes in.
Dr. Fiala and his team have conducted a brand new study by adding Vitamin D3 to curcumin. It shows that the combination powers up the cleaning crews. They then remove the protein.
They found that curcumin helps bind the protein to the “cleaning crew.” Vitamin D boosts the cleaners’ absorption of the protein – in all patients. That allows the “cleaning crew” to remove the dangerous protein. Just like healthy people.
“Vitamin D3 and curcumin offer new treatment possibilities for Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Fiala.
He notes that both compounds are completely natural and safe. That means you can take steps today to prevent Alzheimer’s.
The best source of vitamin D3 is through natural sunlight. In summer and spring months you should opt for at least 20 minutes each day. But during the winter you can also get it in your diet.
Wild-caught cold-water fish are perhaps the best dietary sources of vitamin D3. But cage-free eggs and organic yogurt are good sources too.
You can also buy a vitamin D3 supplement in capsule form. The recommended dose is 10 mcg each day for people over 50.
As for curcumin… getting that is easy. It’s found in abundant amounts in Indian food and spicy curry. But you can also buy it in supplement form at most good health stores.
Dr. Sally Frautschy – associate professor of UCLA – says she eats curry four times a week.
She recommends you take one tablespoon or 200mg of curcumin each day.
To your best health,
Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”