Curcumin-Fenugreek complex may pass blood-brain barrier, impact brain waves

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Maryna Ievdokimova / Getty Images
© Maryna Ievdokimova / Getty Images

Related tags: Curcumin, Cognitive function

A curcumin-fenugreek complex (CurQfen) may impact brain waves and boost audio-reaction time compared to placebo and unformulated curcumin, says a new study.

Writing in Nutritional Neuroscience,​ scientists from Aman Hospital and Research Centre (India), Akay Natural Ingredients (India), Mahatma Gandhi University (India), and Life Extension, Inc. (USA) report that the changes observed for brain waves are “consistent with penetration of the blood-brain-barrier”​.

“We were surprised to see the results of the 30-day clinical trial when the software-assisted analysis of the Electroencephalogram (EEG) data was completed, since this is the very first time the effect of curcumin on brain waves was investigated as a proof of its Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB)-permeability and brain bioavailability,” ​said the researchers in a press release from Akay Natural Ingredients, which funded the study.

Study Details

The researchers recruited 18 healthy volunteers aged 35–65 to participate in their randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled pilot study. Participants were randomly assigned to consume 500 mg CurQfen, unformulated curcumin (UC) or placebo capsules twice a day for 30 days.

Tests were performed at the start and end of the study, including EEG measurements, audio-visual reaction time tests, and working memory.

EEG has already been identified as a reliable tool for the brain functional effects of chemicals and nutrients. It is a real time graphical representation of the brain waves as a summation of spontaneously generated electrical potentials of the brain.

Brain waves are typically classified into five types: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. Alpha waves are reported to originate within the cortex, occipital lobe and thalamic regions of the brain and are correlated with working memory, cognition, relaxation and the sensation of pain or other discomforts.

The study found that CurQfen supplementation resulted in significant increases in alpha- and beta-waves, as well as a significant reduction in alpha:beta ratio in comparison with unformulated curcumin and placebo groups.

“Yet another valuable information that can be deducted from EEG is ‘alpha:beta’ ratio, which is an indicator to observe the evolution of fatigue/tiredness over time,” ​explained the researchers.

“Theoretically, an increase in fatigue results in increased [alpha:beta] ratio and vice versa. The observation that the [alpha:beta] ratio was significantly reduced in the [CurQfen]-supplemented group compared to UC and placebo indicate the positive role of [CurQfen] curcumin formulation against stress and fatigue.”

The researchers also reported that CurQfen supplementation was associated with a 30% reduction in the audio-reaction time and a 36% reduction in choice-based visual-reaction time, compared to placebo and unformulated curcumin.

“The observed changes in alpha- and beta-waves and [alpha:beta] ratio correlated with improved audio-visual and working memory tests which further pointed towards plausible cognitive improvements and fatigue reduction (anxiolytic/ stress relieving) in healthy individuals upon supplementation of [CurQfen], while the relative changes in UC and placebo groups were not significant,” ​they wrote.

“Despite the interesting results, future studies on a higher number of subjects are warranted to confirm the results.”

Source: Nutritional Neuroscience
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2020.1853410
“The effects of oral administration of curcumin–galactomannan complex on brain waves are consistent with brain penetration: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled pilot study”
Authors: A. Khanna et al.             

Related topics: Research

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