Turmeric, a close relative of ginger is one of the most-used medicinal herbs. Studies of turmeric have generally focused on the ingredient curcumin, the phytocompounds that gives the root its bright yellow color, but a new study from Germany reports that the compound known as aromatic-turmerone, or ar-turmerone, appears to induce regeneration in brain cells, both in vitro, in neural stem cells, and in live rats.
The study from Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich, Germany, first grew neural stem cells from rats and treated the cells in vitro with six different concentrations of ar-turmerone over a 72 hour period.
At certain concentrations, ar-turmerone was shown to increase NSC proliferation by up to 80%, without having any impact on cell death. The cell differentiation process also accelerated in ar-turmerone-treated cells compared to untreated control cells.
In other words, the number of neural cells increased by up to 80% without killing the cells.
The study then went on to test the effects of ar-turmerone on the neural stem cells in live animals. The researchers injected healthy adult rats with ar-turmerone, and used non-invasive, non-surgical imaging techniques to detect reproduction of cells. They found that, in the brains of rats injected with ar-turmerone, both the subventricular zone and the hippocampus expanded, two sites where the growth of neurons is known to occur.
Speaking to ScienceDaily, lead author of the study, Adele Rueger, said: “While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal.”
Turmeric can be used in many dishes as a fresh root, much like ginger, or in powdered form.
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