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New Study Shows Curcumin Can Help Major Depressive Disorder

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phytotherapy research journal coverIt is estimated that almost 5% of the world’s population suffers from clinical depression, or “Major Depressive Disorder” which can have debilitating effects on those who suffer with it.  Those who seek treatment for depression are often prescribed pharmaceutical drugs – and frequently need to experiment under medical supervision to find the drug that provides the most relief. Not all drugs work with any given individual who suffers from depression, and in addition, most of these pharmaceuticals can have other unwanted and uncomfortable side effects.

There are indications that many safer natural remedies are beneficial and can help with symptoms of depression. However, scientific research often focuses on research into pharmaceuticals and quite often neglect the study of natural remedies. Therefore, many remedies which may work and that are natural, are often said to be “unproven” and sometimes carry safety warnings, simply because they have not been studied.

However, an interesting study on curcumin has been recently carried out on the possible benefits it may offer to those who suffer with major depressive disorder. The results were quite exciting in that it showed curcumin is both effective and safe in treating this difficult condition.  The study, which will be published in the Phytotherapy Research journal compared the efficacy of treating patients with curcumin vs the pharmaceutical drug, fluoxetine.

Carried out over a six week period, evidence showed that curcumin was as effective as the drug in reducing symptoms of clinical depression. Sixty patients were studied over the six week period, and in addition to having positive benefits on depression symptoms, those who were treated with curcumin tolerated the treatment very well, according to the authors of the study.

Curcumin is a compound found in the spice, turmeric and is responsible for the yellowish colour in the spice. In other studies, it has shown promise in treating a number of conditions including arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.  In addition to treatment, it may also be a preventative for these health conditions too.

Should you be adding more turmeric to your diet? There is no reason not to – and indeed, it is believed that the best way to get the benefits of curcumin is when it is consumed with oil. There is some doubt on the beneficial effects when curcumin is simply taken as a supplement with only a glass of water. Heating the curcumin in boiling water and consuming as a tea may increase the amounts of the compound that can be used by the body.

If you are one of those that suffers from major depressive disorder, you may want to point this new study out to your doctor and discuss the use of curcumin as a possible treatment.


Sanmukhani, J., Satodia, V., Trivedi, J., Patel, T., Tiwari, D., Panchal, B., Goel, A. and Tripathi, C. B. (2013), Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytother. Res.. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5025


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