Can Turmeric Help in Depression?

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Depression is one very common emotional state today. Because of hectic life, low social support and unhealthy lifestyle more and people today find themselves in depression. All of us have felt depressed at some point of life due to various reasons. Last time I remember when I was depressed was when I did not get my dream job after graduation. It was a short period where I felt miserable, sad, unhappy and did not feel like anything. Thanks to string family support, it did not last for long.

While emotional support plays a very important part, medications are also available to treat these conditions, especially if it becomes chronic. According to some estimates close to 15-20% of world’s population suffers from major depression at any particular time. This is indeed a huge number.

Use of anti-depressant drugs is very common today such as Tricyclic antidepressant, Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, etc. Infact it is the most common way of tackling depression. But one must be careful because these drugs carry several side effects and interact with foods we eat. Thus best remedies for depression are natural and psychotherapy.

I must confess I was not aware that turmeric can also help in treating depression. I was pleasantly surprised to know it and thanked nature for giving so many natural remedies to ensure we stay healthy (of course we have to take them!).

Turmeric for Depression – Some Research Findings

So what makes turmeric good for treating depression? It is again because of the presence ofCan Turmeric Help in Depression Curcumin, the main biological active phytochemical component of turmeric. As I have not tried this myself, I am presenting summaries of some of the research done on this subject:

In one study, the antidepressant nature of turmeric was tested on rats. Rats were subjected to forced swim test (in a nutshell this test is used to measure the effect of antidepressant drugs on behavior of lab animals such as rats). When turmeric was introduced in rats it was found to positively impact it, concluding that turmeric had anti-depressant effect on the animal.

In another test, turmeric was introduced with other common anti-depressants and checked for how it behaves in this condition. It was found that turmeric enhanced the anti-depressing properties of certain anti-depressants.

Yet another test on rats to see effect of turmeric on chronic stress was conducted over a period of 21 days. Rats which were given turmeric dosage were found to be more active (thus less depressed – depression is accompanied with immobility, i.e. depressed person hates to move, keeps sleeping or sitting alone etc.).

There are several more studies with similar results indicating that turmeric can indeed prove helpful in case of depression. Several mechanisms / reasons are proposed for this action – Antiinflammatory and antioxidant property of turmeric being one of them. Others proposed ones include – 

  • Turmeric’s property to inhibit Monoamine oxidase 
  • By increasing brain derived neurotrophic factor
  • Modulating the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmission in brain

Studies also indicated that turmeric has poor oral bioavailability (in simple language it is a measure of what percentage of total drug taken actually reaches in systemic circulation) and thus one should take some bioavailability enhancing agent with it.

Fortunately piperine (an alkaloid which is found in black pepper is one such enhancer and also very commonly used in kitchen (at least in Indian subcontinent).

One can take turmeric supplements or include turmeric in regular diet. The best part of using turmeric is it has little or no side effects in most cases. Of course pregnant women should always take any supplements after consulting a doctor. 

I wish that none of you feel depressed, and even if you do you come out even stronger.
Please feel free to share your own experiences with depression and how you tackled it with or without turmeric being involved. Will be very valuable for readers. 

Source: Ncbi, internet research