Turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, may be helpful for people suffering from mild to major depression. Scientists have known for a long time that curcumin works effectively against depression in animals. However, it was not until recently that human studies of turmeric for depression have been done. The results look promising although there is much more research to be done on this natural antidepressant.
A randomized, double-blind study of 56 people that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that curcumin had positive effects on depressive symptoms that outpaced the placebo starting at the fourth week into treatment. For the first four weeks, both the patients receiving curcumin and those receiving a placebo experienced similar improvements. However, starting at week four the curcumin patients began to see more improvement than the placebo group. The patients receiving curcumin were given 500 mg twice a day.
Another study compared the effectiveness of taking Prozac alone or in conjunction with curcumin. The results were that participants who were given curcumin along with Prozac saw more of an improvement in their symptoms than subjects given Prozac alone. The researchers concluded that it may be an effective natural treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD).
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
WebMd states that early research shows that taking curcumin twice a day for six weeks may be as effective as Prozac in people with depression. However, they say the evidence is insufficient to say one way or another whether curcumin is an effective treatment for depression.
Dr. Weil says curcumin may be help in depression. He notes the success in animals and also states that curcumin has been found to encourage nerve growth in the hippocampal and frontal cortex of the brain. He recommends taking turmeric supplements containing piperine because curcumin is more bioavailable when taken with black pepper.
Dr. Oz did a segment on his show called “The Spice That Can Cure the Winter Blues” about turmeric and how it can help with depression.
People with digestive issues like gallbladder disease, liver disease, or ulcers should be careful about supplementing with turmeric as it can make symptoms worse. Pregnant women should not supplement with turmeric as it can be a uterine stimulant. No matter what your health situation, always speak with your doctor before taking any new supplements.