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Ar-Turmerone: The Turmeric Compound That Stimulates Brain Stem Cells

At this point, the list of health benefits attributed to turmeric is getting pretty ridiculous. This is not to say that the benefits are overhyped (quite the opposite) - rather, the body of research done on turmeric's benefits in the past decade is so voluminous, it's awe-worthy to the point of being almost comedic.

Can one food really be responsible for so many benefits? The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric have been well known for a few decades now - but the list of conditions that turmeric has shown to be effective in treating as a result of these anti-inflammatory properties continues to grow. Everything from arthritis to depression to heart disease have been treated successfully with turmeric (often with greater success that prescription medications).

In the past decade, researchers have started to look into other potential benefits of turmeric and found that it has powerful neuroprotective effects, anticancer properties, antitumor properties and stimulates body's endogenous antioxidant systems. Now you understand why I use the term ridiculous when talking about turmeric.

Expanding Beyond Curcumin

Still, despite literally thousands of studies on turmeric listed in research databases, researchers continue to find new benefits to attribute to turmeric.

Much of the research to date has focused on one particular compound - curcumin - found in turmeric. Curcumin is welll known to be the most potent single anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric, and perhaps was assumed by some researchers to be the sole compound responsible for turmeric's benefits.

Yet, when researchers looked at benefits of whole food turmeric, rather than isolated curcumin, they saw entirely new effects, suggesting that there was more to turmeric than just curcumin.

In the past few years, more research has started to look at a group of molecules known as turmerones, and has uncovered a number of new impressive benefits not seen when research looked exclusively at curcumin. 

Stem Cells And Turmerones: The Research

In a study published in September of 2014, researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany examined the effects of turmerones on a few different aspects of neural stem cell function in vitro (isolated stem cell in culture) and in vivo (in rats). [1]

They found that in vitro, neural stem cells (NSC's) proliferated 50-80% faster when exposed to varying levels of ar-turmerone. While this is interesting, in vitro studies are always deserving of a certain degree of skepticism, as isolated cells in a lab is not the same as a living organism.

Fortunately, when researchers looked at the effects of ar-turmerone in rats, the results were just as promising.

Rats injected with ar-turmerone showed both increased proliferation of NSC's (more total neural stem cells) and increased neurogenesis (more NSC's turning into neurons). 

Additionally, NSC's in the rats were found to mobilize to other areas of the brain at a greater rate in the presence of ar-turmerone, allowing for stem cells to move from the subventicular zone (where the greatest concentrations of NSC's are found) to other areas of the brain.

Stem Cells And Turmerones: The Implications

Given the ability of ar-turmerone to increase proliferation, differentiation and mobilization of NSC's in vivo, the potential of turmeric for treating a variety of neurodegenerative diseases is huge.

Alzheimer's, dementia, depression and many other neurological diseases are driven in part by neurodegenerative activity in the brain and central nervous system. The research is obviously in very early stages, but the potential is there for turmeric to mitigate or even reverse some of the effects of the diseases attributable to neurodegeneration.

Another application where stem cells would seem to hold promise is in cases of head trauma, where damage to brain tissue in certain areas (particularly the hypothalamus and pituitary) can have profound effects on the hormonal function of the individual. 

We know all of these conditions are also driven in part by neurological inflammation, so given the established ability of turmeric to reduce neurological inflammation, the healing effects of turmeric are potentially two-fold. [2][3]

Past studies have also shown that the presence of NSC's in a certain area of the brain will increase the rate of myelination. Myelin is the thin sheath that surround a neuron and "cements" the connections between neurons. Researchers looking at the neurological requirements for learning and memory formation often point to myelination as a critical part of that process. [4]

Increased myelination is of tremendous benefit to those looking to recover from neurodegenerative conditions, but the benefits could possibly extend to those with otherwise healthy brains. Researchers expect that increased myelination in certain areas of the brain would help with learning and memory retention. 

Additionally, NSC's have been shown to have neuroprotective effects when studied in animal models. [5] The combined effect of reduced neurological inflammation, neuroprotection and potential increased myelination make turmeric somewhat of a brain wonder drug.


It comes with the territory - any time you're dealing with new research, there's going to be some caveats when extrapolating the data to make inferences about applications in humans. 

The study was done on rats, which although decidedly not human, do have a nervous system very similar to our own and offer a fairly reliable model for how a given drug will function in a human system. So while not quite as convincing as a human study, this is not my primary hesitation with this data.

The main issue I can see with this study is that the rats were injected with isolated ar-turmerone directly into cerebral fluid. The levels of turmerone that made it into the brain tissue of these rats are likely impossible to achieve by ingesting turmeric orally. That being said, based on the dose-response curve demonstrated in the study, it's reasonable to assume that lower levels of turmerone in brain tissue would have similar effects qualitatively, if of a lower magnitude.

Making predictions based on very early data about how a given compound may effect certain health conditions is always highly speculative. However, based on our best models of disease pathology for conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia, we would expect to see some level of benefit to the patient when treated with turmerone. However, until these studies are actually done, this remains in the realm of speculation.

How To Get Your Turmerone Dose

Assuming you're not going to inject isolated turmerone into your cerebral fluid, getting therapeutic levels of turmerone into your bloodstream and brain is a tricky proposition.

Raw turmeric root and powdered turmeric both suffer from the problem of poor absorption of alkaloids, meaning you would have to eat massive loads of either one of these to achieve therapeutic levels of turmerone (and it's likely not actually possible because of the limits of digestion and absorption).

There are a number of turmeric supplements on the market, and some of these have been formulated to absorb quite well. Unfortunately, these supplements almost universally use only isolated curcumin, and contain no ar-turmerone.

It is out of this frustrating lack of options that we formulated Synchro Gold, the world's only high-absorption turmeric product utilizing a full-spectrum extract of turmeric root. We can now proudly say that no other product on the market comes even close to delivering the such high levels of turmeric alkaloids, including ar-turmerone. Learn more about Synchro Gold here.








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