We’ve written at length about the brain benefits of turmeric, the miracle root that continues to surprise the medical community with its inexhaustible healing capacities.
Turmeric supports and protects the brain on every level. Research has revealed that compounds in turmeric boost cognitive function by minimizing neurological inflammation, protect against brain damage by blocking the activation of microglia cells, and even regenerate brain cells.
Until not so long ago, scientists didn’t even believe that neurogenesis—that is, the regeneration of brain cells—was even possible. Now that it’s clear that the feat can be accomplished with a simple household spice (as long as you’re using a form of turmeric that’s formulated for optimal absorption).
These mechanisms make turmeric a promising functional food for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and general cognitive decline, as well as epilepsy and other convulsive cognitive disorders.
It should come as no surprise, then, that turmeric offers profound protection against stroke, a condition that develops because of blood flow blockages in the brain.
How turmeric can help
In a recent article, we outlined how scientists are using turmeric as a template for developing the next generation of stroke medications. Clinical trials with a new turmeric-derived compound known as CNB-001 demonstrate that it can regenerate damaged cells after a stroke has occurred.
Currently, stroke patients are given a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which rapidly dissolves the blood clot causing the stroke, but cannot repair any damage that’s already been done, and must be administered within an hour of the stroke’s onset. Medical researchers hope that medications like CNB-001 will offer relief and recovery to patients long after a stroke has occurred.
While this research is incredibly promising, you don’t need to turn to laboratory turmeric creations for stroke treatment, as it has quite a bit to offer even in its natural form.
For example, one study used an experimental stroke model in rats to examine whether turmeric can prevent stroke-induced brain damage. During ischemic stroke (the most common kind), a massive inflammatory response is triggered in the brain, and various immune cells migrate into brain tissue. The presence of one type of white blood cell called a neutrophil is a marker for the severity of brain damage—the greater the neutrophil adhesion, the greater the damage and impairment of neurological response. In the study, researchers found that curcuminoids reduced neutrophil adhesion to the walls of blood vessels by 67%, and also that an inflammatory protein called TNF-alpha was greatly reduced.
And that’s just one of many studies that’s leading medical experts to take a closer look at turmeric’s stroke-healing potential. Remember the blocked activation of microglia cells that was mentioned above? Researchers have reason to believe that this mechanism not only boosts cognitive function and slows brain aging, but may also help regenerate brain cells following a stroke. In fact, it was exactly this finding that led scientists to model CNB-001 after turmeric compounds.
Curcumin, one of the most commonly known compounds in turmeric, has also been shown to help with the treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) stroke, which has a higher morality rate than ischemic stroke.
One study found that the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin reduced swelling in brain tissue and helped prevent loss of tissue (as well as the resulting neurological impairments). Another study found that 75-300 mig/kg of curcumin, administered up to six hours after ICH, helped lessen the damage caused by hematomas (blot clots outside of blood vessels).
Turmeric also stops stroke before they happen
While it’s critically important to provide stroke patients with a path to optimal recovery, the greatest measure against stroke is still prevention—and turmeric has that base covered too.
Oxidative stress in the brain is both a risk factor for stroke, as well as a contributing factor to the damage caused during stroke. Curcumin and other antioxidant compounds in turmeric are well-known for their ability to scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, both during a stroke and in otherwise healthy individuals.
The same studies cited above even suggested that by attenuating oxidative stress and inhibiting inflammatory proteins in the brain, turmeric helps prevent atherosclerosis (arterial plaque buildup), a major risk factor for stroke.
Turmeric also reduces neurological inflammation on a day-to-day basis, and supercharges the brain’s detoxification system by boosting the production of endogenous antioxidant enzymes like glutathione, glutathione reductase, glutathione-S-transferase, and superoxide dismutase.
If you or a loved one is interested in using turmeric to prevent stroke, just make sure you’re maximizing absorption and efficacy by using a liposomal turmeric formulation.
While the data above suggests that turmeric can be helpful when used during a stroke, never try to administer treatment to someone having a stroke unless you are a qualified medical professional. Stroke should be considered a medical emergency; if you see the signs of stroke onset, seek medical attention immediately.