Spicy food containing the spice turmeric could ward off the onset signs of dementia, a new report from researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Germany has revealed.
A study published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy shows that aromatic turmerone, a compound found in the plant turmeric, could help fight diseases like Alzheimer'.
The institute has investigated the effects of the spice and how it can boost the generation of stem cells in the brains of rats.
Studying the effect of aromatic turmerone on rats enables the scientists to uncover how it affects the rats' neural stem cells. These are found within the brain and later develop into nerve cells.
The neural stem cells play a part in allowing the brain to repair damage through the development and growth of new nerve cells.
The study saw the rats being injected with the compound before their brains were scanned. Particular parts of the brain reacted much quicker and were seen to active after the aromatic turmerone was administered.
The study uncovered that when the rats were treated with the aromatic turmerone, the growth of nerve cells was heightened in two parts of the brain. This lead to the cells growing at a much faster rate and the production of new nerve cells multiplied.
Researchers at the institute are now exploring the possibility of applying the compound as a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
Dr Laura Phipps from Alzheimer's Research UK said: "This early stage study highlights the effects of aromatic turmerone in rat brains, but the findings are a long way from determining whether this compound could fight diseases like Alzheimer's.
"The death of brain cells is a key feature of [the disease] and investment in research is crucial to understand how this cell death occurs and how to intervene."
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