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Curry may fight Alzheimer’s Disease

May 14, 2007 1 comment

I did a bit of research last year while creating a paper for my graduate classes in professional writing and editing at George Mason University. I had begun by researching current clinical trials on Alzheimer’s disease. My interest in this topic is fueled by self preservation, as my grandmother died of this disease. Excerpts from my paper are below:

 Research Problem: Currently much of ongoing medical research is not easily available to the public. This translates into the public not getting the best and most current treatment.

How can the reporting of this medical research be improved so that it is more readily accessible to the public? Could the scientists and medical researchers assist by filling out a form that would provide specific information (i.e. metadata, keywords, plain language) targeted to this group? How can the scientists and medical researches identify the risks to providing this information in a public forum before it is disseminated?

Background: Recently, the BBC news service published an article on how a study showed that eating curry may slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research using Google provided only similar news stories that did not provide information as to how much curry one would have to eat to obtain this benefit. 

Further research at the NLM (National Library of Medicine) gateway returned seven BioMed published studies, however only three of the studies were available to read in full online for free – most were only abstracts, and the cost to buy the studies ranged from $25 – $75 per study.

Printing out and reading the three published studies provided very difficult – yet rewarding reading.

Scientists had found that the curry compound, curcumin reduced amyloid plaques in the brains of mice by 32.5% after only 22 months of treatment. Curcumin seemed to have only a few mild side effects. Two of the studies mentioned the type of curcumin used (Curcumin C3 Complex). Only one study referenced the curcumin manufacturer and locale. A quick Google search was used to find and buy the specific curcumin used in the studies.

Challenges: The time that elapsed from the time the BBC news article was read, to the time the Alzheimer’s fighting potential of curcumin was located in studies was approximately 2 hours. It took another hour to locate the curcumin manufacturer, and the retailer who sold it online at the best price.

Because of the terms and writing styles used in the reports, acquaintances who reviewed the same material could not seem to grasp the importance of the research to them, even when they had a parent has has been diagnosed or died from Alzheimer’s disease (meaning that they are also at risk for the disease).

Furthermore, it is not easily stated that it may be wise for those who have or are at risk for developing Alzheimers’s, to begin a regimen of taking curcumin or eating curry regularly. Currently, there are no effective treatments to halt this terrible disease. Given that Curcumin shows such promise in fighting it, and has few side effects, it would be wise to recommend its use in select cases.

Rationale: Many clinical trials seems to bear an implicit assumption that its sole purpose is to develop drugs to treat conditions and disease. The development of drugs is a long, expensive and arduous process, and while the drugs are being researched and developed, people may be suffering and dying needlessly.

These same studies that include the basis of the herbal, hormonal or nutritional based treatments, with the recommended protocol/treatment, sources, and ranked by order of most promising/least promising, identifying risks and contraindications of treatment, and including the risks of non treatment, could save lives and improve the quality of life.  They could do that by recommending a course of action to take, recommended doses, and sources, for those who pursue wellness through non-pharmaceutical methods.

The difficulty in obtaining easily understood and most current information available regarding groundbreaking medical research by the people it could help the most makes a compelling case for ensuring that this information is easier to find and understand.

In the example of providing medical research studies in a more accessible manner, this paper will demonstrate the value of providing a comprehensive knowledge management strategy to this important research. Methodologies such as reporting diseases, conditions and treatment methods by similar conventions will ensure better results when users from any educational level perform a search for knowledge. Usability studies, much as what is done for websites, will be recommended for analysis of changes needed to the way current medical research is reported. Metadata and keywords should be required of all clinical trials reported, and clinical trials should have a plain language component so that all may understand the results.

Outcome: Development of a template or form that will be completed by all who submit the results of clinical and medical research studies. The template/form will ask:

• What are the current treatments for this condition?
• What are the current ongoing clinical studies?
• Which clinical studies look the most promising for developing into a drug or treatment method?
• Have they been validated by other independent medical studies?
• Does the clinical study have a non-drug alternative, such as a herb, nutritional supplement, or other protocol that the public could follow until a drug is developed?
• If so, what is the specific formulation that was used in the study, and where can the public obtain that formulation?
• Based on the studies conducted to date for this condition, and the current medical knowledge, what course of action would you recommend to a family member, such as a son, daughter, sibling or parent to follow if they had this condition?

The studies on curry/curcumin and Alzheimer’s are here:

Curcumin inhibits formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, binds plaques, and reduces amyloid in vivo. 

A Potential Role of the Curry Spice Curcumin in Alzheimer’s Disease – This is a ongoing study with human participants, who have Alzheimer’s, taking Curcumin C3 Complex. The Curry Spice Curcumin Reduces Oxidative Damage and Amyloid Pathology in an Alzheimer Transgenic Mouse

A source for the Curcumin C3 Complex: