Livingwith a psychiatric disorder can be devastating for both sufferers and theirloved ones. Unfortunately, many of the solutions offered by modern medicine domore harm than good while offering little in the way of relief. Thankfully,researchers have discovered that a compound in the popular Indian spiceturmeric has the potential to effectively treat psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder anddepression.
Youmay have heard the fanfare about turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, whichit gets from a compound within the spice known as curcumin. It has long beenused in traditional Chinese medicine and has been gaining popularity in Westernmedicine in recent years. This polyphenol is being revered for its protective,anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and is being used to help fightcancer and stop the cognitive decline of neurodegenerative disorders likeAlzheimer’s. Non-toxic and affordable, it’s showing a lot of promise in helpingdeal with many of the health problems facing people today.
The same anti-inflammatory qualities that make it so good at addressing issues like arthritis can also extend to mood disorders. Not only does it reduce levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and inflammatory interleukin-1 beta, but it also reduces salivary cortisol concentrations while raising the levels of plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
Astudy carried out by researchers at Australia’s Murdoch University found that curcumin extractsreduced people’s anxiety and depression scores. They noted that it wasparticularly effective at alleviating anxiety. Moreover, even low doses of thespice extract were effective in addressing depression. In addition, theresearchers found it worked quite well on those with atypical depression, whichis a marker of bipolar depression.
Growing evidence of curcumin’s usefulness in addressing psychiatric disorders
Curcuminhas been found in other studies to be just as effective as one of the mostpopular SSRI antidepressants on the market, Prozac, making it an excellentoption for those who wish to avoid the negative side effects of thispsychiatric medication. It works by raising levels of dopamine and serotonin,two vital neurotransmitters related to depression. In addition, becausedepression is believed to be caused by chronic inflammation, it makes sensethat curcumin’sability to reduce inflammation could alleviate depression.
Interestingly, studies have also found that when curcumin is taken either alone or with saffron, it reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression in those suffering from major depressive disorder. When taken alongside the herb fenugreek, meanwhile, it can reduce fatigue, stress and anxiety in those with extreme occupational stress. Curcumin supplementation has also been shown to significantly improve compulsiveness and memory loss in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It’salso worth noting that curcumin can be taken alongside antidepressants safely;studies have even shown taking the two together can enhance their effectiveness. However, it’s important to keep in mind thatantidepressants carry a lot of risks, so it’s worth exploring whether curcuminalone could be enough to alleviate an individual’s depression.
Theidea of curcumin helping with mood is supported by a study that was publishedin the AmericanJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry earlier this year. In thatstudy, researchers found that participants who took curcumin supplements notedmood improvements, and they plan to explore this connection in a study ofpatients with depression. The researchers expressed optimism that curcumincould be a safe way to provide people with cognitive benefits; they alsodiscovered the spice can improve memory.
Now,researchers are looking for ways to increase curcumin’s bioavailability so thatpeople can enjoy the benefits of this all-star natural treatment. In themeantime, be sure to add black pepper to your dishes when cooking with turmericor look for curcumin supplementsthat contain piperine, a black pepper extract, as this boosts itsbioavailability.