Q: I have seen several articles about turmeric in curry and the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India. I’m wondering if there is something about turmeric that could protect people from dementia. Could its antiviral properties have a beneficial impact?

A: Turmeric is a distinctive yellow spice that is the basis for most curry powder. Needless to say, it is extremely popular in India. Some researchers suggest, “The lower rates of AD [Alzheimer’s disease] in the Indian population has also been attributed to the extensive consumption of turmeric, hinting at the neuroprotective role of turmeric” (Journal of Alzheimer’s disease Reports, Oct. 16, 2019).

One of the proposed mechanisms for turmeric’s brain-protecting properties is its anti-inflammatory activity. This spice has other possible benefits, though.

Researchers use aluminum to mimic Alzheimer’s disease in animal models. A study found that turmeric could help protect rat brains against aluminum-induced deterioration (Molecules, May 18, 2021).

If you are interested in other natural approaches to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, you may wish to listen to our interview with Dr. Dale Bredesen. Show 1214: How to Defend Your Brain During the Pandemic and Beyond is available for free at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com under the Podcasts tab.

Q: I asked my doctor if I should take potassium supplements to lower my blood pressure. Her response: “Absolutely not! Potassium is used to stop the heart.” What’s the real story on potassium?

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A: Potassium is an essential mineral, and your body works hard to maintain it within a narrow range. Either too little or too much potassium could be very dangerous.

A number of drugs can alter potassium balance. Diuretics such as furosemide or hydrochlorothiazide and the antifungal drug Diflucan can deplete potassium. ACE inhibitors such as enalapril or lisinopril help the body hang on to potassium. Anyone taking one of these should have potassium levels monitored closely.

A Mediterranean-style diet or a DASH diet rich in vegetables provides a healthy amount of potassium. Baked potato with skin, sweet potatoes, plain yogurt, tuna, soybeans and asparagus all are great sources.

Q: I watched a documentary about a simple remedy for nighttime urination. It suggested elevating the legs for at least half an hour in the afternoon or early evening. Is there anything to this? It seemed to work for a couple of nights but I wasn’t sure.

A: This is an old-fashioned approach to treating nocturia. A summary in the BMJ (May 1, 2004) recommends compression stockings or taking an afternoon nap with the legs elevated. This reduces the amount of fluid building up in the lower legs. We have been unable to find studies of the efficacy of these approaches.

Doctors sometimes prescribe diuretics, but taking a water pill too late in the day might actually increase nighttime urination. Some readers maintain that eating a handful of raisins before bedtime can help with this problem. Others suggest beets or beet juice to reduce urinary frequency.

You can read more about these and other approaches in our eGuide to Favorite Home Remedies. This online resource can be found under the Health eGuides tab at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.