Can Curcumin Cure Depression?
Curcumin which has been shown to reduce inflammation and has been used as an effective adjunct in the treatment of cancer may also have a role in the treatment of depression according to this study in Phytotherapy Research. So what is this curcumin cure for cancer? First, some numbers.
Depression is a growing epidemic. We hear all the time about the obesity epidemic, but no so much about the depression epidemic. By 2020, a short six years from now, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world (not just the United States). Keep in mind these numbers are rising despite better pharmacological treatment for depression. Currently, one in ten Americans suffer from depression.
Many of these individuals are on at least one antidepressant medication with as many as 63% of these treated individuals experiencing at least one of side effect. There are at least 75 side effects of antidepressants including anxiety, suicidal thoughts, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. It sure would be nice to find a “cure” without so many side effects.
How Curcumin Treats Depression
There are at least three mechanisms by which curcumin can provide relief from depression.
- Promotes neurogenesis.
- Modulate neurotransmitter levels.
- Reduces inflammation.
Neurogenesis is the development of new brain neurons. For a long time we thought that it was not possible to develop new brain cells – that the brain was static – but it’s not true. Antidepressants may stimulate production of new brain neurons, but it appears the same is true for curcumin without the side effects that come along with antidepressant use. And, that’s a big differentiator between the two.
Antidepressants work mainly by preventing the breakdown or metabolism of the neurotransmitter called serotonin. Curcumin has been shown to mildly modulate levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Inflammation has been discussed before by us. In a nutshell, inflammation is a contributing factor in all chronic diseases. Inflammation enhances breakdown of neurotransmitter and injures the connections between nerve cells. Curcumin, as it turns out, is a powerful modulator of inflammation and the main reason it is being used and studied more each day in clinical trials involving cancer and arthritis.
Curcumin: What Kind and How Much?
If you already take an antidepressant I suggest you not stop taking it without your physician’s supervision and monitoring. But you may wish to take 500 mg of curcumin twice a day if there is room for improvement in the management of your depression. It’s essential that you find a supplement that uses the BCM-95 patented formula which has been licensed to several supplement makers. This formula of curcumin is more readily absorbable than regular curcumin supplements you may see.
Also, I recommend the book, The Mood Cure, which provideds non-drug remedies for depression and other mood disorders.