Curry is the collective term for a huge variety of stews popular in India. There is no one invariable ingredient, but the spice most common to curry is turmeric, a bright yellow powder ground from the dried root of a ginger-type plant native to Southeast Asia. The most distinctive component of turmeric is the powerful polyphenol antioxidant curcumin; it’s thought to explain why India has an unusually low rate of Alzheimer’s disease. Used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, curcumin has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects and is now the subject of research for its ability to fight cancer, limit stroke damage in neurons, and generally safeguard the brain. Many labs are turning out synthetic variants of curcumin to enhance its biological availability. Recently scientists at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, created a synthetic derivative that actually reverses the effects of ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury at the behavioral as well as molecular level in animals. Researchers report that it maintains cell-signaling pathways required for nerve cell survival, and reverses movement and memory deficits following brain injury by conserving neural connections. In normal animals, it actually enhances memory. Makes you want to hurry to get some curry.