I finally had a chance to research curcumin and I am delightfully surprised. It has some properties similar to prozac but it has even more. One research study I found looked at curcumin using what is called an 'unpredictable stress model'. This is when the researchers stress the mice in random, unpredictable ways. They have found this to be the most stressful on the mice. If stress is consistent and/or predictable, it is not as hard on the body or brain.
Curcumin did increase neurogenesis by increasing serotonin and BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). But it did something more that I think may be the biggest help to Down syndrome.
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant, but that is not the most intriguing part of the research. Lots of herbs and vitamins are anti-inflammatory or have antioxidant properties.
The most intriguing part is the idea that curcumin is structurally capable of binding to amyloid plaques and breaking up the aggregation of them. Curcumin literally sticks itself to the junk (amyloid plaque) and breaks up the group of them stuck together.
This group of junk clogs up the brain and stops it from working.
Down syndrome has a triplicate copy of the APP gene. Amyloid precursor protein gene. This is the gene associated with Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease, brain researchers find the brains full of plaques and tangles. The plaques are called amyloid plaques.
Now, the big drawback I see to curcumin is getting it into the brain. It doesn't cross the BBB (blood brain barrier) easily. But, one brand, Longvida Curcumin, came up with an intriguing solution. They combined curcumin with lecithin. What does that do, you ask? Well, lecithin is phosphatidyl choline, a fat that will cross the BBB. Brilliant!!!
I think curcumin is a fantastic addition for the health of the Down syndrome brain (and probably everyone would benefit).