HEALTH CAPSULES: More power to turmeric

BANGALORE: The list of diseases that can be potentially treated by haldi (turmeric), a traditional ingredient in Indian cuisine, is getting longer — the latest addition being Alzheimer’s disease.

Characterised by progressive loss of memory, Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent type of dementia in the elderly. American scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles have found that the chemical curcumin present in haldi may help the immune system clear the brain of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease.

Known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, curcumin’s curative property has already been established by scientists in the case of cancer and malaria in animal experiments. Now the US researchers have found that curcumin helps fight dementia by enhancing the natural function of body’s immune system.

The early laboratory findings published in the October 9 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, may lead to a new approach in treating this disease, according to their report.

Using blood samples from six Alzheimer’s disease patients and three healthy control patients, the researchers isolated cells called macrophages that travel through the brain and body gobbling up waste products, including amyloid plaques. The team treated the macrophages with a drug derived from curcumin for 24 hours in a cell culture and then introduced amyloid plaques. Treated macrophages from three out of six Alzheimer’s disease patients showed improved uptake of the waste product compared to the patients’ macrophages not treated with curcumin. These initial findings demonstrate that curcumin may help boost the immune system of specific Alzh-eimer’s disease patients, the scientists said. — HNS

Acupuncture cure for over 400 ills: Expert

TIANJIN: A four-year research by a doctor with the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic Research Centre in China’s Tianjin city has concluded that acupuncture can cure 461 diseases. Du Yuanhao came to this conclusion after finishing his study on acupuncture functions.

According to Du’s findings, acupuncture treatment is mainly effective against diseases related to the nervous system, the digestive system, the genitourinary system, muscles, bones and skins, such as stroke, diarrhea, enteritis, dementia and skin rashes.