Ingredient in curries can protect brain cells

Turmeric has medicinal properties
Turmeric has medicinal properties
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A drug derived from the spice turmeric could be used to treat stroke patients.

A compound found in turmeric, a staple ingredient in curries, has been found to help protect and regenerate brain cells after a stroke.

Scientists created a new molecule from curcumin, the crucial chemical in the spice, and used it in laboratory experiments, though it is yet to be tested on humans. They found it could repair damage at a molecular level and is linked to the survival of the brain cells’ neurons.

Sharlin Ahmed, research liaison officer at the Stroke Association, said: ‘When a stroke strikes, the brain is starved of oxygen causing brain cells to die or be damaged.

‘There is a great need for new treatments which can protect brain cells after a stroke and improve recovery.

‘The spice turmeric is known to have many health benefits, yet this is the first significant research to show that it could be beneficial to stroke patients by encouraging new cells to grow and preventing cell death after a stroke.

‘The results look promising, however it is still very early days and human trials need to be undertaken.’

Paul Lapchak, director of translational research in the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, presented the findings at the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference.

Turmeric comes from a plant that is part of the ginger family and is already thought to have many health benefits.