Can Turmeric Prevent Fearful Memories from Being Stored in the Brain?
- Published on: 29 March, 2017
- Last update: 24 August, 2017
“A spice commonly used in curry could help erase bad memories, according to a recent study. Scientists found that curcumin, a bright yellow compound extracted from turmeric, was able to prevent new fearful memories from being stored in the brain (and also removed pre-existing fear memories!)
Psychologists from The City University of New York trained rats to become scared when they heard a particular sound. Scientists assumed the creatures were frightened when they froze. Hours later, when the same sound was played to the rats, those who had been given ordinary food froze.
Yet the rats fed the curcumin-rich diet didn’t freeze, suggesting their fearful memories had been erased!
Professor Glenn Schafe, who led the study, said: ‘This suggests that people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological disorders that are characterized by fearful memories may benefit substantially from a curcumin-enriched diet.’
Memories are formed in the brain as new connections between neurons. They are initially fragile, but gradually stabilize in the brain as they are put into long-term storage: a process known as consolidation. Here’s the kicker: when established memories are recalled, they ALSO temporarily destabilize in the brain, becoming like new memories for a while. This gives you your golden window to heal and recover from that memory!
“If nothing happens, those destabilized fear memories get put back into long-term storage. In other words, they restabilize, or reconsolidate,” explained Professor Schafe. “But we’ve learned that we can go into the brain during that destabilization window and prevent those fear memories from reconsolidating.” That’s where turmeric comes in. “Effectively, we can erase them. And that appears to be what we’ve done with a curcumin-enriched diet.”
Curcumin is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body AND brain. This is important for the future of psychology, as inflammation has been implicated in psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.” – Daily Mail, UK
NOTE: When eating or taking turmeric, it’s important that it’s consumed with black pepper and healthy fat for maximum absorption.