I was intrigued when I was recently reading what I thought initially was a serious review of the research into dementia. The author – a medical doctor – claimed that curcumin (which includes the spice tumeric) drastically reduces the rate of Altzheimer’s disease, a fact demonstrated by India, where the reported percentage of this debilitating disease is lower than in any other country in the world.
Then I realized what I was reading was an advertisement for tumeric supplements. Not just any tumeric supplements either. Only high quality supplements will bring about the desired results.
I started to ask a few obvious questions:
- What percentage of the population over the age of 60 in India have been in contact with a qualified professional who might have made a diagnosis of some kind of dementia? I know more than one case in both the US and Britain where an elderly person suffering from dementia is being taken care of by family members and who have not seen a doctor in years.
- To make matters even less clear, a certain diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is extremely difficult if not impossible without a post-mortem examination of the brain of the affected person.
- And since the advertisement insisted that the quality of tumeric supplements was important, it may be relevant to ask just what kind and how much of this treasured spice is consumed on average every day in India.
There was no discussion of any of these issues vital to substantiating the claims made.
So to claim that India has a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease than any other country in the world, let alone to claim that this is a result of the fact that so many Indians eat curry spiced with tumeric, is highly dubious.
I have tumeric in something I eat almost everyday because I like it. I am aware that claims for it are made for curcumin as an antioxidant, for reducing joint pain, the incidence of cancer, brain & heart disease, depression and the side effects of many cancer treatments. I strongly suspect that tumeric, like many herbs and spices, is very good for us.
But if it’s a miracle, science has not yet proven it.
Sometimes I think the differences between religious faith, political promises, and scientific claims are indiscernible.