December 10, 2016

Can Curcumin Retard My Parkinsion’s Progress AND Generate New Brain Cells?

In my last post, I reported on a fascinating talk by a neuroscientist who explained how we can help our brains perform neurogenesis, the creation of new cells. ​She identified ten key nutrients that supported neurogenesis, and I was pleased to see curcumin on that list.

In an April 2012 post, I described my decision to start taking curcumin, the active ingredient in the Indian curry spice turmeric. Since then, I've written more about this subject than any other… with the possible exception of 5-HTP.

Curcumin vs. Coconut Oil
​M​any of those earlier posts grew out of my frustration at seeing all the hoopla about coconut oil as a "cure" for Alzheimer's -- and then, as the hype grew,​ as a cure for​ Parkinson's, too. The kicker? No scientific studies supported those claims.

On the other hand, curcumin has been the subject of more scientific studies than any other botanical​, but it hasn’t generated any publicity approaching the “coconut oil phenomenon.”

​The coconut-oil-for-Alzheimer's bandwagon finally ran out of steam in 2014. Dr. Mary Newport, that bandwagon’s drum majorette, abandoned her "miracle cure" theme in a post on her blog that was little noticed. This contrasted with the five million viewers who watched her interview on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network in the promotion of her best-selling book, Alzheimer's Disease:What If There Was a Cure?

Increasing Support for Curcumin
Interest​ in turmeric -- and its active ingredient, curcumin -- began decades ago when researchers started asking why India’s rates of colorectal , prostate, and lung cancers were so low. (Rates for these cancers in America are up to 13 times higher.) The scientists also noted that Indian peasants have one of the world's lowest rates​ of Alzheimer's. Why?

Over the years, many studies have shown that turmeric / curcumin can help prevent or treat many ailments, including:
  • a variety of cancers
  • ​inflammatory conditions
  • autoimmune problems
  • neurological ailments, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes and diabetes-related neuropathy​
  • ​arthritis
  • ​depression
The main “problem” with curcumin has been its bioavailability, its ability to penetrate the blood/brain barrier. The turmeric / curcumin spice by itself has little bioavailability. But those low-Alzheimer’s Indian peasants also consume lots of black pepper, whose active ingredient piperine has been shown to significantly increase curcumin’s bioavailability.

In recent years, clinical trials involving humans have shown​ that versions ​of curcumin enhanced with BioPerine (derived from piperine) can cross the blood/brain barrier and achieve the beneficial effects already demonstrated in animal and in-vitro studies.​

Just a few years ago, turmeric / curcumin was described as the "unsung hero" of nutritional supplements. Not so unsung today.

In both 2013 and 2014, turmeric was the number one best-selling herbal ingredient in American natural and health food stores. In those two years, sales of turmeric / curcumin products rose 30%.

Earlier this year, Google reported that “turmeric” was the most-searched-for food term between January, 2014 and February, 2016.

Last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that in July 2015, its PubMed database listed almost 8,000 studies of turmeric / curcumin. Since then, nearly 1,000 new studies have been added to the list.

Choosing a Turmeric / Curcumin Supplement
​Here we go again! Given the fast-paced new research and the soaring public interest, new and improved turmeric / curcumin supplements are flooding the market.

When I post something new on this subject, I typically check current supplements and often end up switching to a new brand that seems to pack more of "the right stuff."

I generally favor the products of Doctor’s Best, whose curcumin has been well reviewed. But I decided to try another promising supplement -- Paragon Curcumin -- because of its extra strength.

For what it's worth, here are the #1 best-selling turmeric supplement and the #1 best-selling curcumin supplement on


Andrew said...

Thank you for all the information and your blog! Can you give an update on how you are doing with the Paragon Curcumin? How does the Doctor's Best Curcumin compare? Thank you for your response.

John Schappi said...

I'm back to using Doctor's Best. I forgot the reason for changing. Propably read a good review somewhere. I don't expect curcumin to make me feel better today. I just hope it will slow down the progression of my Parkinson's


Andrew said...

Thank you for your response. Get better soon!