The Curcuma longa root is one of the most beneficial medicinal herbs. This plant, which is part of the ginger family, contains turmeric. Turmeric is a strong and thick root that has many medicinal properties.
Turmeric, which is widely used in southern Thai and Indian cuisine, is now getting recognition as more than just a kitchen spice. But does turmeric help with reducing anxiety, depression, and stress?
Turmeric for Depression and Anxiety
The ancient Ayurvedic herb turmeric has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of ailments, including arthritis, weight loss, and inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
The benefits of turmeric have been studied recently, and it is possible that it could be used to complement treatment for several neurological disorders. Curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric, may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, reduce symptoms of epilepsy, and delay the onset of other neurodegenerative conditions, according to researchers.
We’ve seen evidence that turmeric may improve mood and help fight depression. After struggling with anxiety and poor quality of life, I found that curcumin supplements helped me immensely.
Before discussing the studies and how turmeric works, let’s take a closer look at anxiety and depression.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. It is one of the most common psychological disorders and can cause significant impairment in one’s ability to function. It can have a profound impact on our daily lives and mental health. The way you think, feel, and activities can all be changed by stress, as well as your ability to sleep, eat, and work.
Different people can have different symptoms when they are depressed, but often there are many similarities between people who are depressed. If a person is feeling any of the following emotions: hopelessness, worthlessness, pessimism, emptiness, or a sense of being alone, they need to seek help immediately. These are all severe symptoms that require attention.
Some types of depression include -Major Depressive Disorder -Persistent depressive disorder -Bipolar disorder -Seasonal affective disorder There are a few types of depression that will be discussed in this article. These types of depression include Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder: Otherwise known as “dysthymia,” a depressed mood lasting a minimum of two years. Symptoms may be less severe at times, but the depression is persistent.
- Postpartum Depression: Women who experience major depression amidst pregnancy or following the delivery. Extreme sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety often occur.
- Psychotic Depression: Transpires during bouts of severe depression while simultaneously experiencing some form of psychosis— false fixed beliefs (delusions), hearing or seeing things (hallucinations).
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: This type of depression arises during seasonal changes, particularly during winter months, when sunlight is less frequent. It usually dissipates during the summer and spring months.
If you have a family member who suffers from depression, you may be more likely to develop the disorder. If you’ve experienced major life changes, stress, or trauma, or if you have any medical conditions or illnesses, you’re more likely to develop an eating disorder.
Depression can make severe medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s worse. This means that it is very important to go to a doctor or other medical professional as soon as you start feeling symptoms of depression.
What are Antidepressants?
The purpose of prescription antidepressants is to balance the chemicals in the brain that cause depression. These drugs will specifically target the level of serotonin in the brain, which is responsible for making a person feel good. But there’s a catch.
This evidence suggests that most of the positive benefits of taking antidepressants come from the placebo effect. The level of serotonin can be increased or decreased by taking different drugs. Yet, they all show similarly positive results. This occurs despite the chemical imbalance theory.
However, studies have shown that turmeric has an antidepressant effect on the brain without the many side effects that come with taking prescription medications.
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
Depression may be caused by chronic low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress, according to many research studies. Some cases of depression are caused by an underlying condition such as hypothyroidism, for which turmeric has been shown to be effective.
The benefits of turmeric for mental health are well documented. It is one of the best over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents. Curcumin has antioxidant properties, which can help to reduce oxidative stress. This is a primary cause of depressive disorders.
Increasing Curcumin’s Absorption
In 2008, researchers found that curcumin could be absorbed more easily through a very simple process. Curcumin is first extracted from the turmeric root. After that, it is highly purified and reconstituted with other compounds from the original turmeric plant. It is believed that these constituents help the body absorb curcumin from the intestines. The mixture of reconstituted curcumin is called BCM-95®, which is the form of curcumin used in this study.
Studies on humans have shown that BCM-95® is nearly seven times more effective than a standard extract of curcumin. BCM-95 is significantly more bioavailable than a mixture of curcumin, lecithin, and piperine. BCM-95 is better absorbed than other formulations and remains in the body longer so that the body can benefit from curcumin for a longer period of time.
The ability to absorb more of a substance has been shown to be advantageous in other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and is now thought to apply to depression as well.
What is it about curcumin that allows it to target depression so effectively? Let’s take a look at the apparent mechanisms.
The loss of function of brain neurons often occurs at the same time as depression, which is more common in older individuals. Both diseases are considered to be majorly caused by neuroinflammation. Stressful situations that last for a long time can negatively affect the brain’s ability to create new neurons. This is because of increased levels of a type of steroid hormone called glucocorticoids.
Although antidepressants have many negative side effects, they may also increase neurogenesis when taken chronically.
Animal studies have shown that the curcumin molecule can increase the number of newly generated cells in the hippocampus, which is a brain region known to be associated with memory. Additionally, curcumin is thought to improve stress-related decreases in levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that helps to protect existing neurons and encourages the growth of new neurons.
Modulates Neurotransmitter Levels
These high-risk antidepressants work by inhibiting the activity of monoamine oxidase, a family of enzymes that supports the breakdown of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
Other antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) prevent serotonin from being reabsorbed by inhibiting its reuptake in areas of the brain known as synapses after it has been released. It is believed that altering serotonin levels helps brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which can improve mood.
Curcumin has been shown to modestly inhibit two types of monoamine oxidase enzyme (MAO-A and MAO-B) and also to modulate the levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain, safely mimicking the mechanisms of both of these types of antidepressants.
Curcumin may improve attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, dreaming, and learning by boosting norepinephrine. Some researchers suggest that it may also help people to focus. Some researchers suggest that higher levels of dopamine may improve pleasure, emotion, and locomotion, as well as help people focus. Serotonin plays a key role in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, memory, learning, sexual behavior, and temperature.
Inflammation plays a major role in depression. Chronic inflammation can affect many different systems in the body, including the development of depression.
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. It is known to stop or slow down the production of multiple inflammatory compounds in the body. Studies demonstrate that curcumin:
- Inhibits the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), in turn reducing inflammation.
- Inhibits nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappa B), a protein complex that controls many genes involved in inflammation.
- Blocks the synthesis of an enzyme called inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), in turn decreasing the release of inflammatory nitric oxide (NO).
- Lowers, by about 60%, levels of interleukin-1, a group of cytokines that plays a central role in the regulation of inflammation.
- Reduces the expression of inflammatory markers of astrocytes, cells that support and protect brain neurons.
The antidepressant activity of curcumin is thought to be due to its anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
The newly published clinical findings suggest that curcumin has a remarkable capacity to modulate pathways associated with antidepressant activity, including neurogenesis, neurotransmitter levels, and inflammation.
Even though curcumin has a lot of benefits beyond its ability to act as an antidepressant, its anti-inflammatory activity is what really matters. Let’s review some of these broader effects.
Curcumin And Osteoarthritis
Although osteoarthritis has been traditionally seen as a wear-and-tear condition, it is now known also to have inflammatory components. The destruction of cartilage in joints is caused by pro-inflammatory signaling molecules.
In the membranes that line the joints, curcumin suppresses the growth of the inflammatory cells that are responsible for cartilage destruction and even inhibits the “cartilage-eating” compounds that carry out the destructive process itself.
Human studies have shown that taking an enhanced-bioavailability curcumin complex can decrease joint pain and improve joint function. In addition, these patients showed improvements in blood tests measuring inflammation.
Curcumin And Rheumatoid Arthritis
A team of scientists conducted a 2012 study of rheumatoid arthritis patients to see if there was a correlation between high levels of inflammation and the development of the disease.
Curcumin, which is absorbed better than the standard arthritis drug, diclofenac, was more effective on most measures but did not have the same side effects.
Curcumin always goes for the root of the problem, which is inflammation, instead of just trying to cover up pain and other issues.
How to Take Turmeric for Depression
You can easily incorporate more turmeric into your diet, but is it a good idea to use more of it in food or in smoothies? No, there is no distinct reason for this.
Turmeric powder’s curcuminoid content is 3.14% on average. You are unlikely to receive a large enough dosage of curcumin to positively impact your mood or alleviate stress and anxiety. You will need an encapsulated turmeric supplement that contains a higher percentage of curcumin to have the effect you’re looking for.
Another issue with taking turmeric is that the body doesn’t absorb it well, but some supplement brands have found a way to solve that problem. If you take curcumin and piperine together, you’ll absorb 20 times more of the curcumin.
Taking AstraGin with turmeric results in a 92% increase in turmeric absorption, as well as gut health benefits.
How much turmeric should you take for anxiety? The recommended dosage of turmeric for those suffering from depression or anxiety is 150-250 mg of curcumin per serving. This is generally two capsules. We recommend finding something that falls within that range. Start with a small amount, see how it affects you, and then increase it as needed.
Potential Side Effects
What are the negative effects of turmeric? Side effects are rare and usually mild. If you take the medication as recommended, you should not experience any negative effects. However, it’s important to understand the following precautions.
- Curcumin is a natural anticoagulant and may cause complications with blood thinners.
- Diabetics should use extra caution since turmeric is known to have a glucose-lowering effect.
- Higher than normal dosages may raise the likelihood of headaches, nausea, and digestive irritation.
Who should not take turmeric? It is not recommended to take turmeric in large quantities if you are pregnant or nursing. You should not take turmeric for several weeks leading up to an upcoming surgery. Turmeric can make your blood thinner and might cause problems with clotting.
Depression afflicts one in 10 American adults. A large number of people who are prescribed antidepressants experience at least one of their serious side effects.
BCM-95®, a complex of curcumin with much greater bioavailability than standard curcumin, can reduce the negative effects of depression by attacking multiple underlying causes.
A 2013 study showed that a highly absorbable curcumin complex had remarkable outcomes in depressed individuals. Curcumin can help improve depression by increasing the growth of new nerve cells, raising levels of important chemicals in the brain, and reducing inflammation.