Depression refers to a state of low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, fatigue, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed or excessive sleep, insomnia, loss of appetite and poor concentration.
People with depression show symptoms of anxiety, irritation or restlessness. At its worst, depression often leads to suicides and is a feature of psychiatric syndrome such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Depression can also be caused by normal reaction to life events like bereavement (period of mourning or grieving due to loss or death), genetic factors, symptoms of bodily ailments (persistent disease or disorder), side effects of medications for disorders like Hepatitis C, high blood pressure, anxiety and abuse of substance which include illicit drugs (heroin, cocaine) sedatives (painkillers) and alcohol etc.
There are specific forms of depression which includes,
1. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which relates to length of the day.
2. Post-natal depression is a serious disorder which young mothers face after child birth.
3. Bipolar disorder (maniac disorder) relates to major mood swings when periods of depression alternate with periods of mania with from high excitement to severe depression.
One of the methods to treat depression is to regulate the serotonin levels in the brain and a highly effective drug named Fluoxetine (Prozac) is commonly used for treating depression, but it causes some side-effects.
The Prevalence of depression in India has been estimated to be 5.8% for men and 9.5% for women.
The scientists had conducted a study for 6 weeks to determine the effectiveness of curcumin (a bioactive curcuminoid of turmeric) in curing MDD. The study involved 60 patients suffering from MDD who were administered doses of either Fluoxetine (Prozac) or curcumin or combination of both.
It was reported that the effectiveness was highest in the combination of curcumin with Prozac. It was also observed that curcumin has anti-depressant properties which maintains the high serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain and is also non-toxic and considered safe.
Compared to Fluoxetine (Prozac), the combination of curcumin with Prozac was highly effective in providing relief and easier to tolerate. A number of clinical trials have demonstrated positive effect of curcumin in depression.
After the success with curcumin, the scientists are trying to study the anti-depressant-like properties in turmeric oils components like Turmerone and its effectiveness in curing depression in animal models.
Turmerone is the major component of turmeric oil. It comprises of alpha (α), beta (β) and aromatic (ar) turmerone which consists of several therapeutic properties like anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor and anti-proliferative activities.
What happened in the study?
A study was conducted to determine the anti-depressant properties of turmerone after administrating it for one week using mouse force swimming test (FST) and tail suspension test (TST).
In the study, the mice were organized into 4 groups and were administered turmerone in 3 doses (1.25, 2.5, 5.0 milligrams per kilograms) for one week duration.
The pharmacological effectiveness of the anti-depressant properties of turmerone was investigated by measuring the monoamine-oxidase A (enzyme which causes oxidation of monoamines and is involved in brain functioning) activity, corticosterone (a hormone that maintains energy, immune reactions and stress responses) levels in the blood along with the levels of monoamines (neurotransmitter) in the animal brain.
What were the results?
It was observed that turmerone in doses of 2.5 and 5.0 mg/kg respectively, had significantly reduced the immobility time of the mice in cases of FST and TST. But it did not have a significant effect on the ambulatory (adapted to walking) and total movement of the mice.
Turmerone also helped in reducing the levels of corticosterone in the blood and increased the levels of monoamines in different parts of the brain.
It also increased the levels of NE (Norepinephrine which is a hormone and brain chemical) in and DOPAC (by-product of dopamine hormone) and 5-HT (serotonin- the brain chemical that is required for healthy brain function) in the brain.
Turmerone also reduced the monoamine-oxidase-A (MAO-A) activity (excessive activity of this enzyme can inhibit the activity of brain chemicals and impair brain function) in the mouse brain.
How does this occur?
The FST and TST refer to behavioral tests which are useful in understanding the pathological mechanisms of depression and also checking the effectiveness of the anti-depressant drugs.
Reduced immobility or increased movement in these tests is representative of antidepressant activity.
Upon administrating turmerone to mice for a week, the results showed a reduction in the immobility time in FST and TST. This indicated that turmerone may consist of an effective and significant anti-depressant property.
However, turmerone did not have effective impact on the total and ambulatory movement in and this helped to distinguish it from nervous system stimulants and established its antidepressant effect.
The four brain regions of mice such as frontal cortex, striatum, hippocampus and hypothalamus along with their hormonal and neurotransmitter levels were studied for their involvement in important behavioral functions like emotion, memory, motivation and learning.
Turmerone effectively increased the serotonin and dopamine hormonal levels by increasing the levels of monoamine neurotransmitter in the four regions of the mouse brain. The monoamine hypothesis of depression suggests that the production and activity of monoamine neurotransmitters or brain chemicals.
Turmerone reduced the activity of MAO-A enzyme which is responsible for controlling the metabolism of a wide range of monoamine neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Inhibition of this enzyme is effective for treating depression.
Also turmerone reduced the corticosterone or stress hormone levels thereby demonstrating that it acts via multiple pathways to exert its antidepressant activity.
What does this mean?
The animal study demonstrated that turmerone mediates its antidepressant effect by increasing the level of good brain chemicals, lowering stress hormone levels and inhibiting the activity of enzymes that breakdown of brain chemicals thus reducing supply to brain.
This suggests that apart from curcumin, other turmeric compounds like turmerone exert antidepressant effect and to obtain a cumulative effect of all these compounds all you have to do is add turmeric to your diet or take The Golden Paste.
Read paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24176021