October 15, 2013

Curcumin and Alzheimer’s: Should I Up My Daily Dose?

My greatest fear is Alzheimer’s; I suspect most old people like me feel the same way. These days, when something out of the ordinary happens, I ask: "Is it just old age, or is it Alzheimer’s?"

I’ve been an avid traveler -- mostly solo -- for years, and I've always loved the planning part. In the 1980s, though, I didn't do much advance prep. I'd get my 15-day Eurail Pass, check in at the "travelers' aid" desk at each new railroad station, and find accommodations that fit Frommer's Europe on $25 a Day budget. 

As I got older -- and as the internet created new planning options -- I gave up "winging it" and started making reservations at hotels I found in Frommer’s for Europe or Lonely Planet for Asia. It was fun being my own travel agent.

But three recent incidents worry me:
  • In Europe this summer, I was eager to show my son and his companion a town I liked in the south of France: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. So I made a reservation at the hotel I’d enjoyed there years before. When we arrived, I discovered I'd booked the wrong hotel AND the wrong dates! We lucked out, and ended up staying at the Hotel Gounod, a charming hotel in the town center. 
  • On a trip to Montreal earlier this month, I planned a stop in my hometown of Ithaca, NY, and booked rooms for myself and my travel partner at the Statler Hotel on the Cornell University campus. When we arrived at the hotel’s reception desk, "it" happened again: I'd booked the wrong night, and the hotel was full. We made a quick walking tour of the campus, then drove to another, perfectly acceptable hotel downtown.
  • Last week I was scheduled to participate in a workshop -- “Assessing Health Professional Education" -- sponsored by the Global Forum of the Institute of Medicine (affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences) here in Washington. I was looking forward to it. I arrived at 11:30am for what I thought was a noon event, and learned the session had started at 10:30 and was now over. Bummer!
Three goofs in just a few months? For a compulsively organized freak like me? Uh-oh.

A Good Checklist on 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
Figuring the time was right, I checked the Alzheimer’s Association's 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's. The checklist differentiates those signs from normal, age-related memory issues. I came away reasonably reassured.

New Study of Curcumin and Alzheimer ’s Disease
I was also reassured to read this comment from a report published in May: “Curcumin may be beneficial in protecting against development or progression of AD (Alzheimer’s disease) if taken over the long term and started before symptoms of AD become apparent.”

I've regularly discussed curcumin -- the active ingredient in the Indian curry spice turmeric -- on this blog. Many studies -- most with mice -- have confirmed its efficacy as a powerful antioxidant in reducing inflammation found in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Especially encouraging is "Curcumin BCM-95," which has been shown effective in crossing the body's sometimes tricky blood-brain barrier. For additional info on this compound, just enter "BCM-95” into the search box at right.

I’ve been taking BCM-95 for over a year, hoping it might slow the progress of my Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer. It'd be an extra bonus if it also wards off Alzheimer’s.

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