Turmeric is chemically diverse in composition. 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.
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.
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 or aromatic turmerone.
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. 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.
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.
Neural Stem Cells Produce Neurons
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. 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.
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
Currently no ar-turmerone as a supplement. It can be obtained from whole ground turmeric, along with all the curcuminoids. So don’t settle for mere curcumin.