Found in turmeric

Turmerone Induces Neural
Stem Cell Proliferation

May enhance your brain to heal itself

By Will Block

H ave you ever heard of aromatic-turmerone (aka ar-turmerone)? No? That’s not surprising, because despite widespread interest in curcumin — an active compound found in the rhizome (underground stem) of turmeric (Curcuma longa) — ar-turmerone and a great many other active turmeric compounds have not been widely explored.

Although there has been a lot of research about curcumin, comparatively little is known about turmeric itself. Turmeric, a golden spice, has been used since ancient times to give color and taste to food. Over the millennia, it has also been used in Ayurveda medicine for the treatment of many ailments, such as those that affect the stomach and the liver. Also for reproductive problems, infectious diseases, and blood disorders.


While some of the activities of
turmeric can be mimicked by
curcumin, other activities are
curcumin-independent.


In recent years, science has provided the basis for the use of turmeric against such disorders and more. Turmeric is chemically diverse in composition. Various chemical constituents have been isolated from this spice that fall into a number of distinct categories. To date, around 235 compounds, primarily phenolic compounds and terpenoids, have been identified from this spice. Of these compounds, 22 are diarylheptanoids and diarylpentanoids, 8 phenylpropene and other phenolic compounds, 68 mono­terpenes, 109 sesquiterpenes, 5 diterpenes, 3 triterpenoids, 4 sterols, 2 alkaloids, and 14 other compounds.1


In some samples of whole turmeric,
the amount of turmerone
approaches that of curcumin.


Curcumin, which constitutes 2 – 5% of turmeric rhizome, is perhaps the most-studied component. However, while some of the activities of turmeric can be mimicked by curcumin, other activities are curcumin-independent. Among the curcuminoids, which belong to the group of diarylheptanoids, are found a few of most studied bioactive ingredients of turmeric. The most common curcuminoid present in turmeric is curcumin, and commercial curcumin is typically a mixture of three curcuminoids.

Ar-Turmerone Enhances Bioavailability of Curcumin

Dried turmeric rhizomes usually yield 1.5 – 5% essential oils, which are dominated by sesquiterpenes and are responsible for its aromatic taste and smell. Among the most common sesquiterpenes is ar-turmerone. The essential oil from Curcuma longa L. was analyzed by gas chromatography – mass spectrometry. The major components of the oil were ar-turmerone (33.2%), α-turmerone (23.5%) and β-turmerone (22.7%).2 In another study, the ar-turmerone amount in turmeric essential oils was found to be as high as 62%.3 Thus, in some samples of whole turmeric, the amount of turmerone approaches that of curcumin.


Ar-turmerone plays
an important role in self-repair and
recovery of brain function in
neurodegenerative diseases.


In a 2005 study, the curcuminoids and ar-turmerone were found to have hypoglycemic effects (the ability to reduce blood sugar) by activating PPAR-gamma* as one of the mechanisms.4 While turmeric’s most well-studied component, curcumin, has been shown to be a valuable antioxidant, separated from turmeric it exhibits poor bioavailability in animal studies and clinical trials. In a 2012 study, the poor bioavailability of curcumin was enhanced through the use of ar-turmerone, so much so that the researchers concluded that the combination, rather than curcumin alone, was necessary for treating diseases.5


* Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma is an important regulator of insulin sensitivity.


Self-Repair and Recovery of Brain Function

Judging from a new study published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy, data indicate that ar-turmerone induces neural stem cell (NSC) proliferation.6 By promoting endogenous NSC, which are stem cells found within adult brains and which differentiate into neurons, ar-turmerone may play an important role in self-repair and recovery of brain function in neurodegenerative diseases.


In adult mammalian brains, the
subventricular zone and hippocampus
are the two sites where the growth of
new neurons is known to occur.


Neural Stem Cells Produce Neurons



Neural stem cells in red
The study’s scientists discovered that when they put neural stem cells in petri dishes, and bathed them in ar-turmerone, up to 80 percent more of the stem cells grew into neurons or others cells, compared to control experiments where ar-turmerone wasn’t used.

Previous studies of ar-turmerone have shown that it can block activation of neuroinflammatory microglia cells, thus helping to prevent assorted neurological disorders.7,8 Until this recent study, however, ar-turmerone’s effect on the brain’s capacity to self-repair was unknown.

Thus, ar-turmerone shows great promise as a contestant to support regeneration in neurologic disease. Ar-turmerone may therefore be poised as a nutrient candidate for treating neurological disorders, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Up to 80% Increase in Neural Stem Cells

In the study, researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich, Germany, studied the effects of ar-turmerone on NSC proliferation and differentiation both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, rat fetal NSC were cultured and grown in six different concentrations of ar-turmerone over a 72-hour period. At certain concentrations, ar-turmerone was shown to increase NSC proliferation by up to 80%, without having any impact on cell death. The cell differentiation process also accelerated in ar-turmerone-treated cells compared to untreated control cells. To summarize, rodent neural stem cells grew when they were bathed in a solution of ar-turmerone and appeared to specialize into certain types of brain cells more rapidly.


Several substances
have been found to promote
stem cell proliferation in the brain,
but few nutrients also promote the
differentiation of stem cells into
neurons, which constitutes a major
goal in regenerative medicine.
Aromatic turmerone
takes us one step closer to
achieving this goal.


Subventricular Zone Widened and Hippocampus Expanded

To test the effects of ar-turmerone on NSC in vivo, the researchers injected adult rats with ar-turmerone. Using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and a tracer to detect proliferating cells, they found that the subventricular zone (SVZ) was wider, and the hippocampus more expanded, in the brains of rats injected with ar-turmerone than in control animals. In adult mammalian brains, the SVZ and hippocampus are the two sites where the growth of new neurons is known to occur.


† In nuclear medicine, PET is a functional imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image of functional processes in the body.


Lead author of the study Dr. Maria Adele Rueger, said: “While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal.”9

Dr. Rueger added: “It is interesting that it might be possible to boost the effectiveness of the stem cells with aromatic-turmerone.”10

“In humans and higher developed animals their [NSC’s] abilities do not seem to be sufficient to repair the brain but in fish and smaller animals they seem to work well,” Dr. Rueger also told the press.11

“It is interesting that it might be possible to boost the effectiveness of the stem cells with aromatic-turmerone. And it is possible this in turn can help boost repair in the brain.”11

She is now considering whether human trials may be feasible. We think that they are.

Studies now numbering in the hundreds have shown that curcumin and other bioactive compounds in the spice may be helpful for a wide array of health problems. For example, research has shown the turmeric can:

• Support healthy cholesterol levels

• Prevent low-density lipoprotein oxidation

• Inhibit platelet aggregation

• Suppress thrombosis and myocardial infarction

• Suppress symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes

• Suppress symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

• Suppress symptoms of multiple sclerosis

• Protect against radiation-induced damage and heavy metal toxicity

• Inhibit HIV replication

• Suppress tumor formation

• Enhance wound healing

• Protect against liver damage

• Increase bile secretion

• Protect against cataracts

• Protect against pulmonary toxicity and fibrosis

• Protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Both Compounds in Whole Turmeric

There currently appears to be no offering for ar-turmerone as a supplement. However, it’s good to know that it can be obtained from whole ground turmeric, along with all the curcuminoids, and many other health-bearing active constituents. So don’t settle for mere curcumin. Get all the powerful compounds found in turmeric.

References

  1. Gupta SC, Sung B, Kim JH, Prasad S, Li S, Aggarwal BB. Multitargeting by turmeric, the golden spice: From kitchen to clinic. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep;57(9):1510 – 28.
  2. Dias Ferreira F, Mossini SA, Dias Ferreira FM, Arrotéia CC, da Costa CL,Nakamura CV, Machinski M Jr. The inhibitory effects of Curcuma longa L. essential oil and curcumin on Aspergillus flavus link growth and morphology. ScientificWorldJournal. 2013 Dec 3;2013:343804. doi: 10.1155/2013/343804.
  3. Liju VB, Jeena K, Kuttan R. An evaluation of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from Curcuma longa L. Indian J Pharmacol. 2011 Sep;43(5):526 – 31.
  4. Nishiyama T, Mae T, Kishida H, et al. Curcuminoids and sesquiterpenoids in turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) suppress an increase in blood glucose level in type 2 diabetic KK-Ay mice. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Feb 23;53(4):959 – 63.
  5. Yue GG, Cheng SW, Yu H, et al. The role of turmerones on curcumin transportation and P-glycoprotein activities in intestinal Caco-2 cells. J Med Food. 2012 Mar;15(3):242 – 52.
  6. Hucklenbroich, Klein R, Neumaier B, Graf R, et al. Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 2014;5:100.
  7. Park SY, Kim YH, Kim Y, Lee SJ. Aromatic-turmerone’s anti-inflammatory effects in microglial cells are mediated by protein kinase A and heme oxygenase-1 signaling. Neurochem Int. 2012 Oct;61(5):767 – 77.
  8. Park SY, Jin ML, Kim YH, Kim Y, Lee SJ. Anti-inflammatory effects of aromatic-turmerone through blocking of NF-κB, JNK, and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in amyloid β-stimulated microglia. Int Immunopharmacol. 2012 Sep;14(1):13 – 20.
  9. The Global Source for Science news — AAAS. Turmeric compound boosts regeneration of brain stem cells. EurekAlert. September 25, 2014. www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/bc-tcb092314.php . Accessed: February 19, 2015.
  10. Tumeric could encourage brain’s ability to heal itself. Cognitive Therapeutics Method. October 15, 2014. http://cognitivetherapeutics.com/Newsroom/Blog/tumeric-could-encourage-brains-ability-to-heal-itself/. Accessed February 19, 2015.
  11. A compound found in turmeric encourages brain repair. ScienceAlert. September 29, 2014. http://www.sciencealert.com/a-compound-found-in-common-spice-turmeric-encourages-brain-cell-growth. Accessed February 19, 2014.


Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

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