10 Benefits of Turmeric In Depression [UPDATED]

Depression is one very common condition 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 strong family support, it did not last for long.

What is depression?

Depression is a brain disorder in which level of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) becomes abnormal.

Factors like hormone imbalance, genetic changes, difficult life situations and other medical problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or stroke contribute to the onset of depression.

It is accompanied by a combination of symptoms such as emotions of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, frustration, anger and loss of interest in family and friends and, physical problems like tiredness, body ache, weight loss/gain and changes in appetite and sleep pattern.

In depression, symptoms occur regularly for a longer time and makes daily life tough.

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.

In fact it is the most common way of tackling depression. Researchers are now investigating natural remedies for depression.

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!).

But first, a bit about turmeric.

Turmeric – miracle spice

Yellow coloured Indian spice- ‘Turmeric’ is the powdered rhizome of the plant, Curcuma longa.

Turmeric has been a part of native Southeast Asian food. It is also a herb known to possess a number of healing properties which can be exploited to develop to modern medicines for treatment of a broad range of ailments.

Ayurveda contain years of documented scientific studies that prove therapeutic properties of turmeric turmeric such as anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, antifungal, antibacterial, antidepressant, pain reliever, anticoagulant, antifertility, anti-diabetic etc.

The medicinal properties of turmeric are primarily due to the curcuminoid content in it.

Curcuminoids give yellow colour to turmeric and generally make up 5% of turmeric composition. Mainly, three types of curcuminoids are there: curcumin (65–80%), demethoxycurcumin (15–25%), and bisdemethoxycurcumin (5–15%).

10 Benefits of Turmeric In Depression

Here is what research has to say about the role of turmeric and curcumin in depression.

1. It reduces inflammation

Quite a bit of change regarding the concept of causative factors of depression is being made. One significant change that is now being acknowledged by scientists is inflammation serving as a causative factor for depression.

A study published in BMC medicine, 2013 acknowledges the presence of inflammation in depression and address the question as to where the depression comes from.

Few of the factors that cause inflammation in depression include smoking, lack of sleep, vitamin D deficiency, poor diet and physical inactivity.

Few surprising causes include psychosocial stressors and even dental cares. Diet, generally goes unnoticed, but modulating your diet can improve depressive symptoms.

Poor diet can hamper good bacteria in your intestine and make your intestine permeable to infection and toxins- another inflammatory pathway.

A recent observational study published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2016 compares the symptoms of patients with depression and inflammation with those with depression alone.

It was found that depression with inflammation was more chronic and persistent. Also it was found to be associated with amotivation and higher BMI.

Keeping these factors in mind, curcumin can be thought of as one stop solution for inflammation in depression. Curcumin found in turmeric and other bioactive ingredients in turmeric have potent anti-inflammatory activity.

Curcumin has unique anti-inflammatory action where it inhibits both COX and LOX enzyme- key players of inflammation. It also does not cause side effects caused by non steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.

Curcumin acts on as many as 30 multiple biochemical targets in order to relieve inflammation. This property makes turmeric beneficial in countering inflammation in depression.

What does this mean?
Turmeric and curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory activity which helps in reducing inflammation in depression.

2. It promotes antioxidant defences

The occurrence of inflammation in depression makes the conditions conducive for oxidative stress- imbalance between antioxidant and prooxidant agents. Also poor diet can contribute to reduced antioxidant defences.

A study in university students reported that students with depression had reduced intake of dietary antioxidants.

A recent study published in BMC Psychiatry, 2015 shows that reduced antioxidant defences is a trait of depression and is unrelated to stage of depression- poor antioxidant defences could be observed in first episode of depression or even in major depressive disorder.

Pandya et. al supplementation with antioxidants as a viable treatment for depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions.

Curcumin consumption at a dose of 500mg daily is found to improve antioxidant defences. Oxidative damage in depression can damage mitochondria- powerhouse of our cells and thereby cause degeneration of the brain.

Curcumin’s antioxidant action is found to protect from such damage. Curcumin and other curcuminoids are potent antioxidants. Curcumin’s antioxidant action can help scavenge free radical species that cause oxidative stress.

Anderson et. al have identified curcumin as a promising antioxidant in treatment of depression.

A study comparing the antioxidant effect of fluoxetine to curcumin has found fluoxetine’s antioxidant activity comparable to curcumin. (Yes, this study compares an antidepressant to curcumin, rather than vice versa!)

What does this mean?
Curcumin improves antioxidant defences and lowers oxidative stress (imbalance of prooxidant and antioxidant agents in the body) in depression.

3. It regulates vital protein levels in brain

Neurotrophins are proteins that are vital for survival and function of brain cells or neurons. BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor is one such protein which plays an important in formation of neurons, learning and memory etc.

Issues in BDNF signalling lead to progression of neurodegenerative diseases or neuropsychiatric diseases.

In an animal model of non induced depression (depressive symptoms occurred as a result of genes and not experimentally induced) curcumin treatment was found to exert potent ant-depressant effects.

Depression causes a decrease in BDNF levels and this study shows that curcumin treatment reduces depressive symptoms by increasing BDNF levels. Researchers concluded that curcumin is an effective and long lasting natural antidepressant.

Apart from attenuating depressive symptoms, curcumin’s ability to promote BDNF levels helps to protect cognition and memory from deleterious effects of depression and stress.

Various animal studies confirm that increasing BDNF levels is one of the mechanisms by which curcumin exerts anti-depressant property.

A study published in Journal of Clinical Psychophamacology,2015 demonstrated that curcumin supplementation with existing antidepressant treatment, significantly reduced depressive symptoms and also brought about a reduction in inflammatory proteins and BDNF levels in humans.

What does this mean?
One of the mechanisms by which curcumin promotes anti-depressant effect is by increasing BDNF levels. BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor is a protein that is essential for survival and function of brain cells and impairment of its production or function has been strongly linked with depression.

4. It regulates neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are basically chemicals in the brain that are vital from brain function and a medium through which each brain cell communicates with each other.

There are 3 main neurotransmitter systems in the brain- monoaminergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic signaling systems. Apart from that there is nitric oxide and endogeneous opioid signalling system that participates in brain function.

There is a hypothesis that depression results as a deficiency of certain monoamine neurotransmitters namely dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Interestingly, various animal studies have shown that curcumin can regulate the level of these neurotransmitters and thereby alleviate depressive symptoms.

Animal studies investigating the mechanism of action of the anti-depressive effect of curcumin shows that curcumin acts on glutamatergic, monoaminergic as well as GABAergic neurotransmitter symptoms.

Kulkarni et. al demonstrated that curcumin with piperine (active ingredient of black pepper) increased levels of serotonin and dopamine in animal model of depression and inhibited monoamine oxidase enzymes.

Monoamine oxidase enzymes break down neurotransmitters and that is why MAO inhibitors are prescribed in depression to stop breakdown of enzymes.

Interestingly this study showed that curcumin-piperine combination had a synergetic effect with certain antidepressants and alleviated depressive symptoms better.

What does this mean?
Curcumin regulates the activity of every neurotransmitter in the brain in order to re-establish the balance of neurotransmitter levels and reduce depressive symptoms.

5. It has gastroprotective effect

Yadav et. al have documented the gastroprotective action of curcumin. By virtue of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties , curcumin reduces inflammation of the gastric lining.

It benefits in various gastric conditions like IBD, IBS, H.pylori infection, gastric ulcers and even protects from drug induced gastric side effects.

Excessive inflammation and poor diet can contribute to inflammation of the intestine and reduce permeability of the intestine increasing susceptibility to infections.

Dietary curcumin is found to protect from food pathogens and its anti-inflammatory property can protect stomach health.

Animal study shows that curcumin complex can protect from stress induced gastric ulcers and also has antidepressant like effect.

The gut brain axis is the communication between brain and the intestinal functions. Disturbance in the intestinal microflora can contribute to conditions like anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and even major depressive disorder.

Our appetite is signalled by our brain. Similarly the bacteria in our gut interact with our brain and disturbance of this bacterial flora indicates why depression presents with gastric symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder which indicates how emotions and stress factors affect digestion.

A study published in Metabolic Brain Disease,2015 demonstrates that curcumin regulates gut brain axis in irritable bowel syndrome by increasing the levels of serotonin and BDNF.

A marked improvement in intestinal function and reduction in stress related behaviour was observed.

What does this mean?
Curcumin protects the stomach from stress induced ulcers and digestive difficulties occurring in depression. Curcumin regulates the gut brain axis and this can help improve gastric and digestion related symptoms in depression.

10 Benefits of Turmeric In Depression tfh

6. It attenuates anxiety and stress

Anxiety is often associated with depression and is a condition where one can’t think clearly and is in a state where worrisome thoughts or fear is experienced constantly.

High anxiety levels can even lead to panic attacks.

Curcumin mediates anti-anxiety effect by regulating neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain which are required for its functioning).

Wu et. al report that curcumin attenuates anxiety by boosting DHA levels. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is an omega 3 fatty acid which is essential for brain function.

Animal studies also show that curcumin’s antidepressant effect also protects memory, thinking and other brain functions from side effects of anxiety and stress.

Haider et. al have shown how curcumin treatment protects from stress induced anxiety and strengthens memory.

HPA axis is an intricate communication between three endocrine glands- hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands and this communication regulates mood, stress levels, digestion etc.

An animal study reports that curcumin alleviates depressive symptoms in chronic stress by increasing the levels of proteins required for brain function such as BDNF and CREB and this in turn may affect the HPA axis favourably and reduce stress.

What does this mean?
Curcumin regulates the levels of various neurotransmitters and attenuates anxiety, stress and other cognitive deficits caused by it.

7. It ameliorates sleep deprivation

Depression often presents with symptoms such as insomnia and sleep deprivation on short term as well as long term has detrimental effects. It affects cognition, memory, ability to focus and to a certain extent motor function.

Counteracting inflammation has been associated with improvement in sleep.

Tumor necrosis factor is a protein that plays a very important role in inflammation. A study shows that inhibiting the activity of tumor necrosis factor actually brings about improvement in sleep in depressed patients.

We have already covered in Benefit No 1. how curcumin’s anti-inflammatory action can help reduce inflammation in depression. This can also help improve sleep.

Also this explains why readers not only experience a reduction in pain but also improvement in sleep pattern, when they consume Turmeric Milk before going to bed.

Animal study shows that curcumin protects from sleep deprived deficits. It improved antioxidant defences, prevented weight loss and reduced anxiety symptoms caused by sleep deprivation.

What does this mean?
Dietary turmeric can improve sleep pattern and attenuate insomnia associated with depression. Based on reader experience consuming Turmeric Milk is found to improve sleep.

8. It has brain protective property

Curcumin offers neuroprotection- it protects the brain. It’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties prevent loss of functional neurons. This has implications in neurodegenerative as well as psychiatric disorders.

Curcumin increases the level of BDNF (protein required for survival and function of neurons) in order to exert a neuroprotective effect in depression. It protects brain cells from cell death.

Animal studies prove that curcumin, alone or with piperine, offers neuroprotection and prevents neuronal death in depression.

What does this mean?

Curcumin offers neuroprotection- it protects the brain from cognitive dysfunction as well as structural changes.

9. It protects cognition and memory

Depression as well as antidepressant treatment can cause cognitive deficits such as problems in thinking, difficulty in remembering things as well as learning.

Animal study shows that curcumin supplementation can actually strengthen memory and attenuate stress. Liu et.al have also shown that curcumin can reverse stress induced learning and memory deficits.

A study published in BMC medicine 2016, identifies curcumin as a ‘cognitive enhancer’ or in simple terms brain food.

Authors of this paper point that conventional antidepressants may improve cognition and thinking in some individuals, while majority of patients with Major Depressive Disorder , even with antidepressants, still experience cognitive impairment.

Therefore with the help of novel agents like curcumin, one can hope for ‘cognitive remission’ or complete recovery/remission from Major Depressive Disorder.

A study on healthy older population found that curcumin supplementation improved attention and working memory within 1 hour. Chronic treatment with curcumin improved working memory, mood and reduced fatigue.

A study published in Neurotoxicity Research, 2016 acknowledges that curcumin has an added benefit as an antidepressant; it also acts as a neuroprotectant (protects brain cells and brain function).

What does this mean?
Curcumin not only serves as an antidepressant but also protects the brain’s vital functions such as thinking, learning and memory.

10. It improves the effect of antidepressants

Generally it is advised that curcumin should not be taken with any other antidepressants.

The thought behind this suggestion is that since curcumin also regulates neurotransmitters, the effect of curcumin and other antidepressants may be additive and cause side effects.

There is no evidence to prove this as of yet. The reason why we recommend not taking antidepressants and turmeric supplements together is because curcumin interferes in drug metabolism.

So it may increase the level of antidepressants in the body which may have better therapeutic effects but on long term may cause side effects.

Again there is no concrete evidence with regards to this but there is no harm in maintaining a 3-4 hour gap between taking antidepressants and turmeric supplements. Also it is safe to consume turmeric in diet.

Bergman et.al conducted a study where individuals suffering from depression were treated with curcumin (500mg) or placebo with standard antidepressant therapy (escitalopram or venlafaxine).

No difference in results was observed between curcumin and placebo; but there was more rapid relief in depressive symptoms with curcumin treatment.

A study published in Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology,2015 also investigated the effect of curcumin as an add-on therapy in depression.

Individuals were asked to take 1000mg curcumin or placebo (soybean powder) in addition to standard antidepressants. A significant decrease in depressive behaviour with curcumin treatment was observed.

Also there was a reduction in inflammatory enzymes, stress hormone levels and increase in BDNF levels ( a protein essential for good brain health) was observed with curcumin treatment.

Panahi et. al have found that curcuminoid-piperine mixture (1000mg and 10mg respectively is a safe and effective add on therapy to standard antidepressant treatment.

In an animal model Kulkarni et. al have found that curcumin acts synergistically with antidepressants-fluoxetine, venlafaxine, or bupropion. It also reduced their dosage levels required to observe a therapeutic effect.

Another study shows that curcumin potentiates the action of antidepressant-fluoxetine. Sanmukhani et. al have shown that curcumin is as effective as antidepressants- fluoxetine and imipramine but when taken in combination it does not increase their therapeutic effect.

All in all it is safe to take turmeric or curcumin on standard antidepressant therapy based on the evidences till date. However more research needs to be done with respect to different type of antidepressants and curcumin’s interactions.

What does this mean?
Curcumin and turmeric are safe as add-on therapy in depression and may increase the efficacy of standard treatment. It is advisable to consult health practitioners before taking curcumin supplements.

Does turmeric really help in depression clinically?

Considering many animal studies have been quoted above, you must be wondering whether curcumin and turmeric will actually help in depression in humans.

The animal studies help identify mechanism of action by which curcumin alleviates depression.

Lets have a look at the various studies in humans investigating the efficacy of curcumin in depression.

Curcumin brings rapid relief in depression

A study published in Clinical Neuropharmacology, 2013 investigated the effect of adding curcumin to standard antidepressant treatment. The study lasted for 5 weeks and individuals were asked to take 500mg curcumin or placebo.

There were positive changes in both the groups but no significant differences in curcumin and placebo group. In other words curcumin was as good as placebo in this study. However there was a more rapid relief in depressive symptoms in curcumin group.

No significant adverse effects were observed in this study but scientists have identified some errors in design of the trials which could explain why the results did not turn out in favour of curcumin.

Curcumin as good as Prozac

In 2014 came the Turmeric vs. Prozac study, Sanmukhani et. al compared the efficacy of curcumin with fluoxetine in Major Depressive Disorder. 60 patients were assigned to 3 groups to receive fluoxetine (20mg), curcumin (1000mg) or combination.

The study last for 6 weeks. The percentage of responders was 77.8% in combination group, 64.7% in fluoxetine group and 62.5% curcumin group.

This was the first clinical evidence to suggest the use of curcumin in MDD and found curcumin to be as good as standard antidepressant, Prozac/Fluoxetine.

Curcumin benefits in atypical depression

In the same year, another study identified curcumin’s antidepressant potential in humans. 56 individuals with MDD were given either 1000mg curcumin or placebo daily.

Improvements were observed as early as 4 weeks in both groups, but between 4-8 weeks curcumin showed significant improvement in mood related symptoms.

For the first time Lopresti et. al showed that individuals with atypical depression showed better response to curcumin treatment.

Curcumin improves depression biomarkers

In 2015 Lopresti et.al showed that curcumin supplementation not only reduced depression in patients with major depressive disorder but also brought about reductions in certain biomarkers.

Curcumin regulated the levels of leptin and endothelin-1 and this is of relevance to its antidepressant mechanism and heart health in depression.

Curcuminoid enhances therapeutic effect of antidepressants

Panahi et.al demonstrated that curcuminoid-piperine combination benefits in depression. This study compared addition of curcuminoid(1000mg)-piperine(10mg) to standard antidepressant therapy with standard therapy alone.

It was found that curcuminoid group had significant reduction in anxiety and depression scores and improvement in cognitive and psychological scores was also observed.

This study showed that is safe to add curcuminoid-piperine combination to standard antidepressant therapy.

Yu et. al also demonstrated that addition of curcuminoids (1000mg) enhances the efficacy of antidepressants. The 6 week chronic supplementation also reduced inflammatory enzymes and stress hormone levels in depressed individuals.

Curcumin reduces anxiety in obesity

A study published in Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2015 reported that curcumin supplementation has anti-anxiety effect in obese individuals.

Meta-analysis study proves curcumin is beneficial in depression

A study published in Phytotherapy Research, 2016 reported results of meta-analysis of clinical trials assessing the effect of curcumin in depression.

It revealed that curcumin administration caused a high reduction in depressive symptoms.

Its effect was more pronounced in middle aged individuals, more efficacious at a higher dose and for a longer duration. BCM-95 formulation of curcumin was found to be as effective as standard curcumin-piperine combination.

Curcumin & saffron benefits in atypical depression

Lopresti et.al designed a study to overcome the limitations in design of studies till date on turmeric and depression.

123 individuals with Major Depressive Disorder participated in the study and were assigned to 4 groups:

• Low dose curcumin: 500mg a day

• High dose curcumin: 1000mg a day

• Low dose curcumin and saffron: 500mg and 30mg respectively per day

• Placebo

The combination treatment resulted in the highest decrease in depressive symptoms. Patients with atypical depression showed better response. The response rate was unaffected by high or low dose of curcumin.

Curcumin and saffron were safe and effective in reducing depression and anxiety in MDD.

What does this mean?
There is considerably good evidence in the form of human studies to show that curcumin is a safe and effective antidepressant. It takes around 4 weeks to deliver results and improvement in symptoms is observed on longer duration of treatment.

In case of Major Depressive Disorders curcumin (with piperine) works best as an add-on therapy to standard antidepressant treatment. Additionally curcumin reduces inflammation, boosts brain health and improves overall health in depressed individuals.

Can turmeric help in other psychiatric conditions?

Turmeric’s anti-depressant activity coupled with other medicinal properties such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant makes it a great option for various conditions that are related with depression

Turmeric ameliorates symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

In an animal model of mania, curcumin is found to protect from oxidative stress occurring in the mania phase of bipolar disorder.

It is found to increase the level of antioxidant enzymes and thereby can also help in reducing relapse of such depressive episodes.

Apart from that curcumin’s ability to balance neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation and improve antioxidant defences benefits in bipolar disorder. (Read Turmeric for Bipolar Disorder)

Turmeric combats Anxiety & Stress

Various animal studies mentioned above have depicted curcumin’s efficacy in reducing stress and anxiety. One of the principal action is regulating various neurotransmitters, followed by protecting brain cells and protecting cognition and memory.

In other words, curcumin not only works as an anxiolytic but also as a cognitive enhancer.

A study published in Phytotherapy Research, 2015 showed that adding curcuminoid-piperine combination to standard antidepressant therapy resulted in significant reduction in anxiety and depression in major depressive disorder.

Turmeric may help in PTSD

A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015 showed that dietary curcumin can attenuate reactivation of fear memories in Post traumatic Stress Disorder.

Now this is a significant finding, considering that individuals with PTSD experience repeated visualization of stressful, fearsome memories.

More studies need to be conducted in relation to humans, but definitely curcumin can help protect brain health in PTSD and alleviate depression. (Read Turmeric for PTSD)

Turmeric benefits in Obesity and depression

Obesity increases the risk of depression and affects around 25% of the obese population. A study was conducted where 30 obese individuals were given curcumin (1g/day) or placebo.

Results were assessed on the basis of scores defined for depression and anxiety such as Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scales. The study lasted for 10 weeks.

With curcumin treatment scores reduced on BAI scale but no significant changes were found on BDI scale. Researchers concluded that curcumin has anti-anxiety effect in obese individuals.

Also turmeric can accelerate weight loss outcomes of exercise and diet. (Read Turmeric for Obesity)

Turmeric alleviates depressive symptoms during Menstruation

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms women experience prior to menstrual cycles. One of the symptoms is mood related changes and depressive feelings.

However Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe condition that affects many women and has disabling form of premenstrual syndrome symptoms involving severe mood disruption, depression etc. This may require help for psychiatrists and psychologists.

A study was published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2015 regarding the therapeutic efficacy of curcumin in premenstrual syndrome. 70 individuals were recruited in this study.

35 received curcumin while 35 received placebo. Curcumin treatment consisted of 2 capsules a day 7 days prior to menstruation and 3 days after menstruation and this routine was followed for 3 successive cycles.

A 58% decrease in PMS score was observed with curcumin treatment while only 13.6% reduction in score was observed in placebo group. This effect was attributed to curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property and ability to regulate neurotransmitter levels.

Further the same group investigated the role of curcumin specifically on mood related changes in PMS. They found that curcumin treatment, in all 3 cycles, increased the levels of BDNF ( a protein in the brain required for survival and development of brain cells) and a parallel decrease in PMS severity score was observed.

This highlights that curcumin can potentially boost brain health and alleviate mood related changes in PMS or PMDD. (Read 8 Benefits of Turmeric in Menstruation)

Turmeric protects Memory and may prevent dementia

Curcumin’s ability to protect and improve memory has been successfully proven in animal models of aging, heavy metal toxicity, neurodegenerative diseases and stress.

Cox et. al conducted a study to assess the effect of curcumin supplementation on age related decline in memory. The treatment was as follows:
• Acute: 1 and 3 hours after single dose
• Chronic: Treatment was continued for 4 weeks
• Acute on chronic: 1 and 3 hours after single dose after chronic treatment

60 healthy individuals of the age 60-85 were enrolled in the study and curcumin supplement used was Longvida (400mg).

1 hour after consuming curcumin, aan improvement in attention and working memory was observed. Chronic treatment brought about an improvement in working memory, mood and reduced fatigue.

Acute on chronic treatment significantly improved alertness and contentedness. Curcumin also reduced cholesterol levels.

Turmeric benefits in Epilepsy and seizures

Epilepsy and seizures on a long term can present with depression. Curcumin and turmeric oil have anti-seizure and anti-epileptic properties.

Also they can help reduce side effects and dosage of epilepsy medications and treat depression associated with it. (Read Turmeric for Epilepsy and seizures)

What does this mean?
Turmeric’s antidepressant property benefits in various conditions like bipolar disorder, PTSD, premenstrual dysmorphic disorder, dementia etc.

Which is better for depression: turmeric or curcumin?

Now this is a pretty difficult question to answer in terms of research. Most of the research on the anti-depressant properties of turmeric has been focussed on the activity of curcumin alone, in animal as well as human studies.

But it is important to note that turmeric has much more to offer than curcumin. Turmeric oil also has anti-depressant activity.

Certain animal studies acknowledge the antidepressant activity of alcohol and aqueous extracts of turmeric; the mechanism of action involved is regulating neurotransmitter levels and HPA axis.

So for mild to moderate depression dietary turmeric in the form of Golden Paste can help.

In case of Major Depressive Disorder one may require a combination of dietary turmeric and turmeric supplements. Opt for turmeric supplements only after consulting a health practitioner.

What does this mean?
For mild to moderate depression, dietary turmeric or turmeric tincture can help. For Major Depressive Disorder, turmeric supplements may be required for a pronounced effect. It is best to consult a health practitioner before taking turmeric supplements.

FAQS on Turmeric & Depression

Here are few frequently asked questions with answers in relation to turmeric’s therapeutic efficacy in depression.

1. Will turmeric help in depression?

Turmeric and its active ingredient have significant antidepressant properties. Dietary turmeric can benefit in mild to moderate depression while turmeric supplements can serve as add-on therapy in Major Depressive Disorder.

2. Can turmeric relive anxiety and stress?

Curcumin found in turmeric has anti-anxiety effect. It helps relieve stress and anxiety and also protects cognitive functions from stress related damage

3. Can turmeric improve sleep?

Turmeric can attenuate sleep deprived deficits. Readers have found Turmeric Milk helpful in improving sleep.

4. Can turmeric improve memory and thinking?

Yes turmeric serves as a neuroprotector and cognitive enhancer. It helps protect and improve vital functions such as memory, learning and thinking in depression.

5. Does turmeric cause acid reflux?

Turmeric if taken at high doses or on empty stomach may cause acid reflux. Also in some individuals it may trigger acid reflux like symptoms. To avoid this, it is best to take small amounts of turmeric in divided doses and to avoid taking it on empty stomach.

6. Does turmeric/curcumin have withdrawal symptoms?

Interestingly there has been no report regarding turmeric or curcumin’s withdrawal symptoms. It is not addictive in nature and some studies report that it can actually attenuate side effects and withdrawal symptoms of opioid painkillers.

7. What dose of turmeric should I take for depression?

This depends on the form of turmeric you take. The details have been highlighted in the Dosage section below.

8. Should I take whole turmeric or curcumin for depression?

We recommend whole turmeric or turmeric powder for mild to moderate depression over curcumin as it contains curcumin as well as other therapeutic compounds and also essential oils which have anti-depressant activity. For Major Depressive Disorder, one may have to consider turmeric supplements.

9. Is it safe to take turmeric/Golden Paste with turmeric supplements in depression?

Yes it is safe to take Golden Paste or turmeric in diet when taking supplements; however it is advisable to limit to low doses say 1-2 teaspoon in a day to avoid gastric discomfort.

10. What herbs can I take with turmeric for depression?
Some herbs that benefit in depression include ashwagandha, St.John’s wort, green tea catechins, saffron etc. Omega3s are also recommended. Consult a herbalist or health practitioner before you take supplements.

11. Can I take turmeric with anti-depressants medications?
Yes it is safe to take turmeric in diet when taking antidepressants. Benefit No 15. stated above shows that curcumin supplements are safe as add-on therapy to standard anti-depressants.

However it is best to discuss this with your doctor first.
If taking Golden Paste or turmeric supplements avoid taking it close to the time of taking other medicines.

12. Can I discontinue anti-depressant medications by taking turmeric?

Turmeric is not meant to replace professional medical advice and treatment. We recommend seeking your doctor’s advice on this. Antidepressants require tapering and this is possible with appropriate medical advice.

13. How long does it take for turmeric to benefit in depression?

This depends on the individual, severity of the disorder, dosage as well as form of turmeric you are taking. Most studies depict a significant reduction in symptoms within 4-6 weeks on turmeric supplements.

14. I have taken turmeric for a month or more but I still see no improvement in depressions?

If its been a month since you have taken Golden Paste at a dose of 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day then here are a few things you could do:
• Check whether you are using good quality organic turmeric powder. (For help click here)
• Up the dose.

Lastly you can seek help from a health practitioner about turmeric supplements. Read Taking Turmeric But See No Benefits

15. Are there any side effects or precautions to note about turmeric?

Turmeric when taken in diet in moderate doses is safe. However there are a certain precautions that you should be aware of and these have been discussed below in Precautions section.

16. Should turmeric be avoided in gout?

Low doses of turmeric in diet can be used in gout but for a therapeutic purpose it is preferable to take turmeric supplements. Please read Precautions section.

17. I am taking a blood thinner, can I take turmeric?

Turmeric in small amounts in diet is safe but turmeric supplements should be avoided in case of bleeding/clotting disorder. It is advisable to discuss this with your doctor.

Dosage of Turmeric For Depression

The best way to take turmeric to boost brain health is to include it in diet and cooking. You can find some great recipes here.

Turmeric has low bioavailability and need to be taken with black pepper and/or fats to improve absorption. The Golden Paste recipe combines these elements.

You can start with a dose of ¼ -1/2 tsp a day and if you observe no side effects you can increase the dose by ¼ tsp gradually every week. An ideal dose would be 1-2 tsp of Golden Paste 2-3 times a day.

However the ideal dose differs with every individual; it could be more or less. Avoid taking it on an empty stomach and close to the time of taking other medicines.

Read detailed article on turmeric dosage here>

Do make sure you buy a good brand of turmeric to get its benefits. If you are confused about good turmeric brands, you can find our recommendations of the brands here>

Turmeric Milk and Turmeric tea are also some delicious ways of taking turmeric. Dietary turmeric or turmeric tincture is recommended for mild to moderate depression.

If opting for supplements, consult a health practitioner about this. The dosage for turmeric supplements for depression is 500-1000mg curcumin a day as per studies.

Start with a low dose of 250mg and increase gradually if no side effects are observed.

Standardized 95% curcumin with piperine can help. Other formulations found to be efficacious is BCM-95 and Longvida.

Avoid taking turmeric supplements on an empty stomach and maintain a 3-4 hour gap between taking turmeric supplements and antidepressants.

It is advisable to include ½-1 tsp of turmeric in diet or as Golden Paste even when taking turmeric supplements for depression so as to improve overall health.

Precautions

Dietary turmeric has no side effects as such. However it is best to introduce it gradually in diet and take small to moderate doses to avoid stomach related side effects.

Turmeric supplements should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation. If suffering from bleeding disorder or taking blood thinners consult a doctor before taking turmeric and turmeric supplements should be avoided in this case.

Discontinue turmeric supplements 2 weeks prior to surgery. Avoid turmeric supplements if suffering from gallstones or gall bladder obstructions.

Limit intake of turmeric as spice in gout or kidney stones. Turmeric supplements may affect drug metabolism and hence should not be taken at the same time as other medicines.

Consult a health practitioner before taking turmeric supplements.

Conclusion

Science has proven multiple properties by which turmeric serves as an antidepressant properties.

It works as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, regulates neurotransmitters, protects stomach health and even helps to protect brain cells and functions.

Perhaps its low bioavailability, limits its efficacy as an antidepressant alone but as an add-on therapy to standard antidepressants one can expect rapid relief in depressive symptoms, significant reduction in inflammatory parameters, improvement in brain related parameters and a positive response in overall health.

We definitely recommend dietary turmeric for brain health and turmeric as well as curcumin for depression. If you have tried turmeric for depression please share your experience for benefit of others.

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47 Comments

  1. I have been using Turmeric Formula by organic india. I have not noticed it help me with my depression at all. Could it be because it doesn’t have peper. Or it doesn’t say it has it. It has ginger in it. It has helped with inflammation and my ibs D.

    1. Hi. Please take these supplements after a meal to help with absorption. Please consult a health practitioner about standardized curcumin extracts with bioperine.
      https://www.turmericforhealth.com/curcumin-benefits-and-dosage/turmeric-curcumin-bioperine-supplements
      Also you could take Golden Paste daily.
      Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-golden-paste-from-raw-fresh-turmeric

  2. I have been drinking golden milk fort 2 weeks before bed and I have noticed drastic change in my mood; I don’t feel moody and sad anymore.

  3. Although the studies combined tumeric and prozac, is there still a potential anticoagulant side effect as SSRI medications inhibit clotting, and it states tumeric does as well? Is there any studies or data on the dose related anticoagulant effects of tumeric, or ssri, and then taking them together?

    1. Hi. No study has yet investigated the anti-coagulant effect of turmeric as well as SSRI in combination. Also the anti-coagulant effects of turmeric have not been proven in humans as well. But yes readers suffering from thrombosis have felt relief after taking turmeric owing to its anti-coagulant effect. Since there hasn’t been any dose escalating or safety study in humans on the anti-coagulant property, we can’t comment on it as of yet.

  4. Hey! Please warn folks about checking for Drug interactions with Turmeric. Because it affects Serotonin levels and if taken with a prescription medication can lead to Serotonin Syndrome.

    “Nortriptyline should not be combined with MAO Inhibitors, Turmeric or Curcumin due to the risk of Serotonin Syndrome.”

    I had just bought a couple of bottles of standardized Turmeric to take, when i came down with some severe migraines and other mystery symptoms. My Physician did not know what was wrong with me and basically has given my drugs one of which is Nortriptyline experimentally to help with the symptoms of migraines ( not fix the problem, mind you) anyway, I totally forgot about my supplements, I was too tired to make golden milk or cook in general. It’s been 7 months and I’m fed up and have a Dr. appointment this week and I found my bottle of Turmeric. Since I bought it for general pain and inflammation I thought maybe I should take it to help with these mystery symptoms, but LO and BEHOLD the medicine I’m taking for migraines is actually a Tricyclic Antidepressant and had I been taking the Turmeric I could have really done damage to myself. So I want to get off the depression meds and fix the problem and take my Turmeric instead. Who knows how long it will take to get off the stuff, it doesn’t seem to help the migraines all the way, so I’m still suffering, so what is the point? Anyway. I’m glad I looked it up before just popping one in with my Rx Pills. I’m gonna go check my visit details to see if I mentioned the herbal and if they should have warned me not to. Happy Tuesday.

  5. Hi I’m suffering with both anxiety and depression but more anxiety than depression. I’m taking floxutine. Will I be able to use turmeric as well? And if yes how? Thanks for your response

    1. Hi. Yes you can take turmeric and it will help with the depressive and anxiety related symptoms. The best way to take turmeric is in diet. You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux.
      Avoid taking it at the same time when you take other meds. https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste
      If planning to take turmeric supplements please consult a health practitioner about this.

  6. i am looking forward to starting Tumeric as I have been taking antidepressants since my husband died 28 years ago.i have had a particularly stressful year with my sons separation from his wife and two and a half year old son, and now the anniversary of my husbands death.TheTumeiric is coming from America and I trust they are helpful, as it is encouraging to hear what every one has written.i find that VERY interesting about the Lugols iodine Solution and the Ioderal capsules.thank you everyone for contributing,Alaiine

  7. I’ve battled depression, possibly thyroid induced, for about 2 years. I even research and made a doctor’s appointment for anti-depressants. Then I started taking tumeric and after about 2 weeks, I feel like a new person. It’s the only I’ve changed and I canceled my doctor’s appointment. I take it in my morning shake and add a few black peppercorns to help with absorption. This has been a life-changing miracle for me.

    1. Hi Jen,

      I’ve experienced depression for the last 35 yrs, I’m 54. I suspect it’s a result of nervousness and ADHD. Today is my first day trying turmeric and pepper. I’ll let you know how it goes

  8. I have also started taking turmeric through golden milk. I feel improved. I hope better results will appear after some time.

  9. What is the optimal supplement dosage for tumeric? It does mention teaspoons above but supplements are far more concentrated. I use the new chapter brand and have been taking 1200 mg a day. Is this an average dose? High?

    Thank u for any info!

    1. 1200mg is a fairly high dose. Most studies use a dose of 500mg to 1000mg but then based on severity of the disease 1.5 -2g are also used. A dose up til 8g is found to be safe. It is best to consult a doctor regarding dose of turmeric supplements.

  10. Suffered with depression following my fathers death, was on anti depressants for years not really doing anything so had to come off them. still have times when it is very difficult to do anything and very tearful so will now try turmeric as anything that helps has got to be good.

  11. So glad I found this site. What is the name of the book that some of you are mentioning.
    I woke up one morning with depression after a few days on antibiotics and it ruined my life to a large degree.
    I’ve been battling it with Remeron or Mirtazapine (generic) but really want to get off drugs as I am otherwise
    healthy and drug free. I am going to give this a try and if I start feeling better after a month or so I’ll try to wean myself off the Remeron slowly and hope for the best. Where there is life there is hope. I’m glad I hung on long enough
    to find some hope. Thanks to all of you for your comments and input.
    haikekingma at
    hotmail dot com

    1. Research does show that turmeric works great as an adjunctive therapy for depression and in some studies its effect is as good as conventional antidepressants. You can take The Golden Paste as dietary turmeric would not interfere with your medications. you can start with 1/4 teaspoon and increase you dose to 1-2 teaspoons or more 1-3 times a day depending on how it suits you. Avoid taking it close to the time when you take your meds. Also consult a doctor for slow tapering of antidepressants if its recommended for you. Here is the recipe for Golden Paste:https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste

    2. Antibiotics are notorious for killing good bacteria in gut. Don’t forget to replenish the good bacteria in your gut with probiotics as the gut plays a roll in mental health.

  12. Hello, I am suffering from depression for the past 32 years , though i tried many synthetic drugs nothing worked. Due to stomach upset i took rice with butter milk boiled adding butter milk three days back. i felt a difference and my head was much clearer. i just now bought turmeric tablets and reached this site looking for connection between depression and turmeric. thanks for the useful information. i can say for sure that for the past three days, after taking turmeric , i am feeling better. i hope there will be much more improvement once i start taking turmeric tablets.thanks. i am in Kerala, India and we use turmeric in all most all our curry preparations. i hear it is better with black pepper. may be, i must try that too.

    1. I did read of a small study in which they compared three groups. One taking prozac, one taking curcumin (turmeric), and one taking both curcumin and prozac. The group taking both had the highest rate of remission from depression though the difference was statistically insignificant. No adverse effects were reported though from combining them.

  13. Just wondering, been taking Curcumin couple months and seem to feel better overall, thought maybe it lowered my BP?? I do know it got rid of my knee pain, and Turmeric paste has nearly got rid of 4 Psoriasis patches, (Curcumin probably helped with that, too!!

    1. Hi Stan, this is great! Turmeric does lower your BP and thus people with existing lower BP issues should avoid large dosages. Further – it is best anti-inflammatory and painkiller available ! So for sure it worked on the other issues you mentioned 🙂

  14. If you want to get out of a depression, I recomend curcumin Longvida plus quercetin that has bromelain, that’s the best combination try it and you will remember me in the morning before breakfast,. You need a low dose 400gr optimized curcumin, from NOW is the best price and hasGMP, and take it for ever, specifically if you make depression.

  15. Lugols iodine solution works 100% for depression. I have been depressed for over 30 years and within a couple of days of taking Lugols I noticed an amazing change. Started on 2 drops per day. Went to 4 drops after 1 month. Six months later feel absolutely fantastic. Sometimes take 6 a day. It is 5% Iodine/10% Potassium Iodide. This is what your thyroid is deficient in. Iodoral is the capsule version (might need doctors prescription?) which equals 2 drops Lugols. I have Lugols in my smoothies to mask the light taste. Can’t recommend it enough. This is a phenomenal reference book, an eye opener and an absolute must for everyone. It is priceless. Read it and you will never look back.

  16. Turmeric does indeed help with depression! I’ve been drinking golden milk for several weeks now, 1 or 2 times each day. Previously, I had been struggling for several years to varying degrees. The most remarkable difference with turmeric is that the negative self talk (that constant negative dialogue I had with myself) has discipated. More often than not, my thoughts can’t even get on that path– even if I try! The side effects of antidepressants aren’t there at all. I actually feel clear and good! To all considering, give it a month trial, at the end of a month do a self assessment. For me it has been a gradual return to hope and the feeling I can manage life’s challenges courageously.

    1. Hi, many thanks for writing. An experience shared from a real user is worth much more than just an article.

      Many thanks again.

    2. Dear Dawn, I also take turmeric every day since one month and can feel some light in the tunnel. I would like to stop taking synthetic antidepressants. Have you been able to do so? Tua

    3. Hi Dawn. It is wonderful news to hear how well it worked out for you. How much turmeric do you take daily in your milk? l am wheening myself from Prozak and want to try turmeric, so glad to read your testimony.-just what I was looking for. I get very irritated when taking lower dosage of Prozak, so was hoping it would help. Thnx

    4. I’m so glad to hear this. I’ve been on Turmeric for just 1.5 weeks now, and I feel the difference. I had just about given up on ever feeling better, unless I could find a spice or an herb, and I did. I’m 64 and I seem to feel closer to 44 again. My head is must clearer.

        1. Hi guys. I started taking Curcumin-95 a week ago. I was just wondering does alcohol decrease the effect of Curcumin treatment, as it does have negative interactions with prozac. Do any of the wonderful people taking curcumin on this forum have any idea about this? Thank you

    5. I completely agree with the elimination of negative self-talk. I honestly can’t believe how much my life has improved by taking this supplement. I had even had thoughts of suicide in the past. I’m a different person since I started taking it.