New UCLA Study Suggests Curcumin Can Improve Memory, Mood, and Attention

If you find it hard to pay attention, you’ll want to pay attention to the latest study carried out by a team of researchers at UCLA. In an 18-month clinical trial, researchers found evidence that curcumin, the bright yellow pigment found in turmeric root, may help improve attention, memory, and mood in older adults with mild age-related memory complaints.[1]

Previous research has shown several potential benefits of curcumin for brain health, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and a capacity to influence gene expression and protect neurons.[2],[3],[4] The latest double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial adds to this body of evidence, showing that Theracurmin®, the #1 absorbed form of curcumin*, enhanced cognitive function in adults.

To investigate the effects of curcumin on brain function, researchers recruited 40 adults aged 51–84 with mild memory complaints. They randomly assigned the volunteers to groups receiving either a placebo or 90 mg of Theracurmin twice a day for 18 months and tested the levels of curcumin in their blood at the start and end of the study. The volunteers also underwent standardized cognitive assessments every six months.

Curcumin’s effects on memory and mood

Compared to placebo, the volunteers receiving the curcumin supplements showed significant improvements in memory and attention. This included a 28% improvement on memory tests over the 18-month trial period, as well as mild improvements in mood.

Given the apparent improvement in mood in those taking curcumin in this study, the researchers plan to carry out a larger study to investigate this connection.

Thirty volunteers in this study underwent additional assessments using positron emission topography (PET scans). The researchers looked for any changes in levels of amyloid plaques and tau signals in their brain tissue – the type of changes associated with cognitive decline and memory loss. Compared to the placebo group, those taking Theracurmin daily for 18 months had significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the regions of the brain that play a major role in memory and emotion, namely the amygdala and hypothalamus.


Your brain on curcumin

Curcumin is an antioxidant compound that helps guard against oxidative damage, including in brain tissue.[2] It can also inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory substances, influence the expression of genes that can affect the health of neurons (brain cells), and enhance amyloid plaque removal to help support cognitive health.[2],[3]

Previous research has also found evidence that curcumin may protect against the effects of the vasoactive peptide endothelin-1 (ET-1), which is associated with the death of cells in the hippocampus (the region of the brain associated with memory).[4]

This latest study was published in the March 2018 issue of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, adding to the growing body of evidence suggesting that Theracurmin, the #1 absorbed form of curcumin*, could have significant brain benefits in older age and throughout life.



[1] Small GW, et al. Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 27; pii: S1064-7481(17)30511-0.

[2] Daverey A. & Agrawal SK. Curcumin alleviates oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in astrocytes. Neuroscience. 2016 Jul 14; 333:92-103.

[3] Goozee KG, et al. Examining the potential clinical value of curcumin in the prevention and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Br J Nutr. 2016 Feb 14; 115(3):449-65.

[4] Stankowska, D.L., et al. Neuroprotective effects of curcumin on endothelin-1 mediated cell death in hippocampal neurons. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Jun; 20(5):273-283.

*Scientific scrutiny revealed that Theracurmin was more bioavailable on a milligram-to-milligram basis than other leading† enhanced and regular forms of curcumin.
†As measured by SPINS 2014 data.