Does Turmeric Work as an Anti-Depressant?

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Depression is a scourge that affects more people in the United States than you might realize.  It can leave sufferers feeling alone, hopeless, confused or worse.  This makes depression one of the most important issues to treat as it prevents those suffering from it from going further in their quest for ultimate health and well-being.

Depression: #1 Cause of Disability Ages 15-44

You may be surprised to find out that major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability among those between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  It affects a staggering 16.1 million people above the age of 18, or a whopping 6.7 percent of the population.

There are many well-meaning mental health professionals (although some might argue there needs to be more investment in that field) and a number of pharmaceutical drugs patients suffering from depression can and do turn to.  But many of those drugs, while offering great potential to help, come with a laundry list of quite frightening side effects, as severe as violence and suicidal tendencies.

So, while these options certainly have their place, it is vitally important that we continue to pursue as many options as possible rather than rely on a one-size fits all treatment plan that may not exist.  And we want those treatment options to be as side effect free as possible.

Is There Hope?

Yes, there is always hope!  And oftentimes that hope is where you would least expect to find it.

Of course, before we go any further, it must be repeated that MDD is a serious illness.  The following information is for informational purposes only.  Always consult with your health practitioner on any condition you have and any treatment plan you are undergoing.

With that said, I have also written previously on the topic of self-esteem and there may be some basic techniques in that article that could be useful for those suffering from MDD.  But today, we are going to look at an unlikely ally in the fight against depression.

Can Turmeric Help Relieve Depression?

Yes, this is the bold spice many of you may be familiar with as one of the main ingredients in curry.  But did you know it also happens to be on of the most studied natural plants or compounds for its healing potential?

Few plants or plant compounds have shown as much healing ability and potential as turmeric has and perhaps none have piqued the curiosity of researchers as much either.  We’ve already discussed its potential in fighting cancer in part one of this series.  Now, let’s take a look at the scientific evidence showing its potential to help deal with MDD.


From here on, we will refer to curcumin, the main constituent of turmeric.  It is this constituent that has excited researchers and is responsible for much of turmeric’s healing potential.

In 2014, a group of researchers published in the journal Phytotherapy Research some very exciting results of a study aimed at determining whether or not curcumin could have the same beneficial effects of a prescription antidepressant without any side effects of suicidal ideation or psychotic disorders.  To do so, they separated 60 patients into three groups.  One group was administered the prescription treatment, the second was administered curcumin and the third was administered a combination of the two.

Astonishingly, at the end of the study, all three groups reported extremely similar rates of depression reduction.  That means the curcumin alone had the same impact in reducing depression symptoms as a pharmaceutical drug.  And the curcumin was well tolerated by all patients.

This is an exciting result because the curcumin was found to not only be an impactful means of treating MDD (in line with the pharmaceutical at least), but it was also found to be safe, not resulting in any side effects of suicidal ideation or psychotic disorders.

A second study published in the October 2014 edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders also put curcumin to the test.  This time they performed a randomized, double-blind study comparing a group of subjects who were administered curcumin against a group who received a placebo for eight weeks.

In this case, both the curcumin group and the placebo group reported similar results in reduction of symptoms over the first four weeks, but the curcumin group reported significantly greater reduction in overall symptoms over the next four weeks compared to the placebo group.


First of all, it should be noted that the curcumin (along with the pharmaceutical option in the first study) reduced the symptoms rather than curing MDD outright.  So that means those who are considering curcumin to deal with depression should know that it alone is not the only method that should be employed for full recovery.

What these studies do not do, as the researchers note, is use large enough sample sizes, which need to be done to further validate findings in the future.  Also, the most effective dosage also needs to be determined.  Too small may have little to no effect and too large might not be tolerated well and could lead to issues not discovered yet.

What it does show us, as we see time and time again, is that plant compounds found in nature can have a profound effect on not only our physical health, but now we see our mental health as well.  Safely consuming a number of these foods in combination can lead to amazing gains in our health and well-being, and consequently to greater success in our lives.

The operative phrase, though, is “safely consuming a number of these foods in combination”.  In most cases, a single food or natural remedy is not the answer.  Multiple options are needed for the best results.

Additionally, as it pertains to turmeric, it is typically not recommended to take more than a teaspoon a day as excess consumption can lead to kidney stones.  That amount may change in the future, but the point is this: safely consuming a number of superfoods gives you the best opportunity for great health.

Again, discuss these results with your health professional before making any changes to your treatment plan.  Mental health is a serious issue that requires great attention.  These study results are for information only and a qualified health professional should be sought to develop a treatment plan.  If you are taking prescription anti-depressants or are on a treatment plan, DO NOT STOP YOUR TREATMENT AS A RESULT OF THIS ARTICLE.

We’re just getting warmed up on this subject and many others, so stay tuned for more.


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