Health Tip – Sept. 11 – Omega-3 and Turmeric to Repair Spinal Cord Injuries
Two dietary supplements may be helpful in addressing age-related damage to the neck and spinal cord. Researchers at UCLA have shown that two natural compounds – curcumin in the Indian curry spice turmeric and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil – appeared to offset the effects of a spinal injury in rats.
The animals were given a condition that simulates cervical myelopathy, a set of symptoms seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. The investigators fed one group of rats foods similar to a typical Western diet; a second group received regular rat chow supplemented with DHA and curcumin; a third group were given standard rat chow as a control.
After three weeks, the rats on the Western diet had progressive problems with walking. The curcumin/DHA group walked better than this group, and examination of their spinal cords showed that the rats on the Western diet had higher levels of a marker linked to cell-membrane damage. The DHA/curcumin group had marker levels similar to the control group.
These finding suggest that DHA and curcumin may help minimize disease-related changes and possibly help repair damage to the spinal cord.