Four weeks of supplementation with a daily dose of 80 milligrams per day of curcumin (400 mg of the Longvida formulation) were also associated with reductions in fatigue following a mental challenge, according to findings published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
In addition, a study of the acute (single dose) effects of the supplement indicated that curcumin was associated with significantly improved measures of sustained attention, wrote researchers from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, led by Professor Andrew Scholey.
“To our knowledge this is the first study to examine the effects of curcumin on cognition in a healthy elderly population or to examine any acute behavioral effects of curcumin in humans,” they wrote. “Hematological safety measures confirmed that 4 weeks of daily treatment with 400 mg of Longvida curcumin was safe and well tolerated in an elderly population.
“Behavioral measures showed that even at the low dose implemented here (approximately 80 mg) curcumin has the potential to improve important cognitive functions, reduce fatigue and improve resilience to the detrimental effects of psychological stress on mood.”
Curcumin goes mainstream
Curcumin, the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow color, has increasingly come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with studies investigating its potential health benefits.
It has been a particularly good year for curcumin/turmeric with market growth of 26% being reported. In 2011 and 2012, sales of herbal dietary supplements with turmeric/curcumin as the primary ingredient were ranked at number three in the natural channel. One year on and they are number one, according to a recent report published in the current issue of the American Botanical Council’s HerbalGram.
Establishing new opportunities
The study’s findings were welcomed by Blake Ebersole, technical director at Verdure Sciences, which funded the study and provided the active and placebo supplements. Ebersole told us that brain health has been major focus for Longvida, starting with its early development by UCLA neuroscientists several years ago.
“This may be the first study to show curcumin can improve cognitive function and energy levels in healthy older adults,” he said. “These new findings could help to establish new opportunities and markets in the brain health category that can benefit from the improvements in short term memory, attention, fatigue and alertness shown in this study.”
Prof Scholey and his co-workers recruited 60 healthy people aged between 60 and 85 to participate in their randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 400 mg per day of Longvida or placebo for four weeks.
Data obtained one hour after the first dose indicated that curcumin boosted sustained attention and working memory.
Results also showed that the curcumin group reported an average 1.82% decrease in fatigue, while fatigue increased by 17% in the placebo group. Measures of calmness and contentedness also improved in the curcumin group.
While the actual mechanism of action is not known, the authors suggested that, “curcumin may help to combat fatigue by improving the maintenance of energy levels and ability to meet energy demands through its effects on mitochondrial function, AMP-activated protein kinase and glucose uptake and regulation.”
Source: Journal of Psychopharmacology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/0269881114552744
“Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population”
Authors: K.H.M. Cox, A. Pipingas, A.B. Scholey