Cumin the spice

The latest research convincingly suggests that most disorders of the brain are the result of prolonged inflammation. Usually, brain disorders result from low-grade smoldering inflammation. The inflammation can have many sources, including viral infections, inhaling exhaust fumes, toxic metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, manganese, iron, copper), minor strokes, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and brain injury. Inflammation in the brain is triggered by a very complex series of reactions within brain cells. When the brain becomes inflamed, specialized immune cells called microglia secrete toxic chemicals including free radicals, lipid peroxidation products, excitotoxins, and immune messengers called cytokines. These caustic chemicals slowly damage critical areas of the brain, destroying synapses (the connectors between brain cells) and dendrites (the branched ends of brain cells that transmit signals in the brain). Eventually these chemicals lead to the death of brain cells, or neurons, themselves.
The neurological disorder that develops with inflammation depends on the areas of the brain most affected. For example, in Parkinson’s disease it is the midbrain (substantia nigra and striatum). In Alzheimer’s disease, it is the hippocampus, frontal lobes, parietal lobes, and discrete areas of the brain stem that are most affected. Yet in all of these age-related, neurodegenerative disorders we see common changes, including:
• High levels of microglial activation
• Evidence of excitotoxicity
• Free radical damage
• Accumulation of oxidized lipids and proteins
• Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines
The hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of nasty-looking microscopic substance called amyloid plaque. In the past, it was thought that a special form of amyloid plaque, called fibrillated amyloid, was the culprit. Now we have learned that a special form called amyloid oligomers is most toxic to the brain. These oligomers act like caustic balls of goo, slowly burning neurons and connections around them. The brain reacts by activating microglia (its immune cells) in the hope of removing the oligomers.
Instead, the immune cells become the problem. They begin to secrete caustic chemicals of their own—mainly inflammatory immune chemicals and excitotoxins (glutamate, aspartate, and quinolinic acid). We call this process immunoexcitotoxicity. Immunoexcitotoxicity also occurs with head injuries, strokes, exposure to brain-toxic metals, certain pesticides/herbicides, and brain infections. It is a universal reaction when the brain is disturbed.
Curcumin has shown itself to be the king of anti-inflammatory substances, equal to the most powerful pharmaceutical drug. 
Curcumin is a flavonoid (an organic compound) extracted from the spice turmeric. It is the curcumin that gives the spice its bright yellow color. Turmeric, a native plant of Asia, is in the family of plants called Zingiberacae, and is a relative of ginger.
The spice turmeric contains a number of compounds, but the most important are the curcuminoids: curcumin, demethyoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Curcumin is the principle flavonoid in turmeric, making up 2 to 5 percent of the plant. Turmeric is a staple of the Indian diet. Not surprisingly, colon cancer rates in India are a fraction of those in the West, and Alzheimer’s disease is one-quarter as prevalent. Because Indians mix turmeric with fatty foods, it is absorbed very well.