Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, an Indian spice commonly added to curries, where it lends its yellow color. Beyond its color, however, curcumin is also responsible for a majority of its health benefits.
The use of turmeric for medicinal purposes is nothing new. It’s a mainstay in both Indian and Chinese cultures in folk medicine for various ailments. In the Indian subcontinent, turmeric, as well as its ingredient curcumin, is often used for treating wounds because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, curcumin has been found to exhibit antioxidant, antiviral, anti-fungal, and even anti-cancer properties.
While curcumin isn’t the only beneficial ingredient found in turmeric, it is the most widely studied. In fact, studies have shown that curcumin has the potential of improving brain health and help reduce the symptoms of depression.
A natural anti-depressant
Curcumin has shown potential to be an excellent natural anti-depressant. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that curcumin is just as effective as the anti-depressant fluoxetine in relieving symptoms of depression, such as low mood and anxiety.
Researchers from India and the U.S. randomized sixty patients from the Sir Takhatsinjhi General Hospital in India into three groups with 20 patients each. The researchers then instructed one group to take fluoxetine, another group to take one gram of curcumin supplements, and the last group to take a combination of both. After six weeks, the results showed that patients who took curcumin supplements had similar improvements to patients who took fluoxetine. On the other hand, patients who took both experienced the greatest amount of relief.
Another study published in Clinical Neuropharmacology also explored the use of curcumin as an anti-depressant and found that curcumin, when paired with an anti-depressant, can provide faster relief when compared to a combination of anti-depressants and placebo.
These studies highlight that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe treatment for patients with depression.
A shield against brain disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease and is the most common cause of dementia. Unfortunately, researchers have yet to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, thus, making preventive measures much more important. (Related: Curcumin Naturally Fights Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimer`s Disease and Obesity.)
Fortunately, studies have shown that curcumin can possibly lead to a promising treatment of Alzheimer’s in the near future. Researchers from the Indian Academy of Neurology found that curcumin has the potential to break up amyloid plaques — protein clumps that disrupt cell function — found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Additionally, curcumin can also help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage — all commonly associated with Alzheimer’s. However, the researchers were quick to point out that further research is still needed.
Take a chill pill, ease off the throttle
Anxiety disorders refer to a group of mental illnesses that interfere with a person’s ability to function and interrupt their daily routine. This can lead to damaging relationships and hinder their ability to concentrate on certain tasks.
Curcumin can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress. A study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine compared the effects of curcumin with that of a placebo and found that curcumin can provide an anti-anxiety effect on obese individuals.
These studies show the potential of curcumin as a natural anti-anxiety medication.
For more information on curcumin and turmeric, visit Turmeric.news.
Author: Darnel Fernandez