Review: The Efficacy of Curcumin in Cognitive Impairment


  • Romi Fung



Background Dementia is a syndrome characterized by a progressive cognitive decline that can interfere with everyday function. The presence of inflammation is associated with the progression of cognitive decline. Treatment of inflammation-induced cognitive decline has been proposed through the use of anti-inflammatories. One intervention studied is curcumin, a compound extracted from the spice turmeric with anti-inflammatory properties. This paper reviews the efficacy of curcumin in cognitive decline.

Purpose This review seeks to understand how effective curcumin is an intervention for optimizing cognition in older adults ages 55 and older compared to placebo. This study will benefit the naturopathic doctor investigating curcumin's current literature and its efficacy in treating cognitive decline.

Methods A literature search was conducted in accordance with literature review methods. Using the keywords [curcumin OR turmeric] AND [Alzheimer's disease OR dementia], a preliminary search for relevant articles on this topic was conducted on MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL, Embase and Cochrane databases screened for article titles containing dementia, Alzheimer's disease and curcumin, and filtering for articles published from 2000 onward and in English.

Results Six studies were found eligible after considering inclusion and exclusion criteria. Of these studies, four of them have shown positive cognition improvements, and two studies have shown no improvement in cognition.

Implications Curcumin may have potential as an intervention for the treatment of cognitive decline. However, due to insufficient studies, more research is warranted to understand better if curcumin is beneficial as an adjunctive treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Key Messages

  • Inflammation plays a potential role in Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin is a compound extracted from the spice turmeric and possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Curcumin may be a potential adjuvant in treating mild cognitive impairment, but likely not for those diagnosed with dementia.
  • Future research on curcumin use is needed to better address and understand its efficacy on individuals living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.


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How to Cite

Fung R. Review: The Efficacy of Curcumin in Cognitive Impairment. CANDJ [Internet]. 2021 Jan. 28 [cited 2022 Aug. 17];27(3):14-21. Available from: