We’ve long known that turmeric, the root-derived spice commonly used in curry, provides many surprising health benefits. It’s already widely used as an effective anti-inflammatory. Now we may begin to see doctors treating depression with turmeric as well. A recent study at Government Medical College in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India has shown that a polyphenol within turmeric known as curcumin shows promise in treating Major Depressive Disorder. After a six-week course of treatment, the effectiveness of curcumin in resolving symptoms of depression was comparable to that of Prozac. When working with your doctor to determine the best treatment for depression, a discussion involving the benefits and risks of potential treatments will be helpful. There is already evidence that curcumin is comparable to Prozac in efficacy, but what about side effects? Here is a short list of some of the common ones: Prozac
- Suicidal ideation
- Psychotic disorders
- Protects brain function
- Slows growth of head and neck cancers
- Reduces inflammation
From these short lists, the case for curcumin is compelling. Curcumin is poorly bioavailable because it is not water- or fat-soluble, so high doses are recommended for effectiveness. It has been shown to be very safe, with no negative side effects, and doses of up to 8 grams a day are fine. Interestingly, black pepper happens to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. Pepper is also commonly used in curry. Which came first – the sauce or the science?
by Cheryl A. Salinas