For the past several years, scientists have been conducting studies to investigate whether turmeric has anti-depressant qualities. According to PsychiatryAdvisor.com, the results are promising. Although it’s not taking the place of medicine, many people use turmeric to reduce depression.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an important spice in Indian foods like curry. In fact, turmeric causes the yellow color frequently in butter, mustard, and cheese. This common spice is at your local grocery store. Although we are just learning of its many health benefits, it is popular in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments.
Although turmeric as a whole is important, it is a component of turmeric that is being studied. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a powerful antioxidant. Truly, it’s the effects of curcumin that are being tested and studied by scientists.
Results from the Studies
According to Adrian Lopresti, PhD, a clinical psychologist and researcher at the School of Psychology and Exercise Science at Murdoch University, curcumin “has relevance to depression because people with depression have greater inflammation and oxidative stress, which can affect all major organs in the body, including the brain.” PsychiatryAdvisor.com explains why this is important:
“Chronic inflammation can decrease levels of serotonin and dopamine and lead to degeneration in certain brain areas. It is possible that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin can restore these neurotransmitters and protect the brain, eventually leading to improvements in mood.”
So, the goal of these studies was to test curcumin as a means to naturally elevate the mood of slightly depressed people. Of course, one group took a supplement and the other group took a placebo. After 6 weeks of study, the group that had taken the curcumin supplement overall were happier.
What they discovered was that trial participants who took the curcumin supplements and were diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) had reduced scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17).
Depression’s Link to Inflammation
Since curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that this study also observed the relationship between depression and inflammation. Some scientist believe that the two may be related for many individuals. It’s possible that, as a person experiences inflammation within his or her body, feelings of depression increase.
Because of this, these scientists advocate for an anti-inflammatory lifestyle for individuals suffering from depression. To reduce inflammation, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and sleep well.
If you are on anti-depressants, don’t ditch your meds. It’s important that you still take your medication as prescribed. The addition of turmeric or curcumin to your diet is not an excuse to quit your treatment plan.
Also, it’s important that you notify your doctor of any supplements you take. Even if you’re just consciously adding more flavor in the kitchen, it is still worth mentioning when you check in with your physician.
Are you using turmeric or curcumin supplements to reduce your depression? Do you think it’s helpful? Let us know in the comments below.
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