Curcumin: a bright yellow polyphenol derived from turmeric. Curcumin has a long history of medicinal use in China and India. Today, curcumin is being widely studied as a therapeutic agent for diseases ranging from cancer to alzheimer’s disease. Some curcumin formulations seem to improve aspects of cognitive function in healthy older adults. In animal studies curcumin seems to have an antidepressant effect, which may be caused by increased hippocampal neurogenesis. Curcumin possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties, each of which could substantially mediate its positive effects in alzheimer’s model animals as well as healthy older populations.
When curcumin is absorbed it is rapidly converted to curcumin glucuronide and sulfate conjugates. These conjugates may have peripheral effects, but they will likely have a hard time crossing the blood brain barrier. The bioavailability of curcumin can be significantly increased by inhibiting the formation of curcumin conjugates with a substance like piperine. In one study on human volunteers curcumin bioavailability was increased 2000% with the coadministration of piperine. Longvida, a solid lipid curcumin particle formulation seems to also substantially avoid the conjugation issue. 650 mg of Longvida alone seems to produce and sustain about twice the amount of free curcumin as 2 grams of curcumin with 20 milligrams of piperine. Positive effects on working memory, alertness and mood have been noted in healthy older adults taking 400mg of Longvida.