Turmeric and brain oxygenation

Turmeric may stimulate blood flow to the brain


Turmeric-based preparations may increase cerebral oxygenation, an effect correlated with better blood circulation to the brain


This is the result of a recent study in Brazil. The study provides new evidence supporting the potential health benefits of turmeric.

Turmeric has enjoyed an impressive rise in popularity over the last decade. According to the 2020 Medicinal Plant Field Report published by the American Botanical Council (Herbal Gram 131), turmeric is the 3rd most popular medicinal plant in the world.

Consumer awareness and understanding of the potential benefits of medicinal plants is now very high, ITC survey data show. Insights 2020 for consumers showing that 86% of herb consumers are familiar with turmeric.

The results of the small Brazilian double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in a group of elderly men and women showed that a single consistent dose of turmeric led to significantly higher increases in oxygenated cerebral haemoglobin (O2Hb) and total haemoglobin (tHb) compared to placebo.

"These results indicate that substantial administration of turmeric may contribute to marked improvement in cerebral hemodynamics during exercise brain activation in elderly participants", wrote scientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition.

The authors cautioned against extrapolating the findings to specific health benefits, stating, "The functional impact of the magnitude of the changes is not fully known. Therefore, formulating relevant recommendations on turmeric ingestion to improve blood flow to the brain will require further research.''

Rio scientists selected 12 elderly men and women, with an average age of 70, to participate in their study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 10 grams of complex extract from Curcuma longa L., either a placebo.

"We chose 10 grams of turmeric extract because curcumin has low bioavailability after ingestion, and previous evidence has shown that a lower dose of curcumin (about 5 g) favorably influences vascular function.", the researchers explained.

Two hours after ingesting the product, the researchers measured several parameters and then subjected the elderly men and women to palmar flexor ring exercises and subsequent brain scans. These were followed by a period of "elimination of any traces of curcumin in the body" for a week before switching groups between them.

The data indicated that the magnitude of change in cerebral oxygenation was 42% greater after curcumin supplementation compared to placebo.

In addition, changes in blood volume (measured as total hemoglobin (tHb)) were 54% greater after the curcumin dose compared to placebo.

On the other hand, there were no significant differences between the groups in terms of heart rate or blood pressure measurements.

"This study demonstrated that consistent administration of 10 grams of turmeric root extract significantly increased cerebral oxygenation and blood volume during palmar flexor ring exercise without changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate in men and women aged 65-75 years," s-he concluded.

Source: International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, C. Rezende et al.