Turmeric enhances mood in depression research trial

September 26, 2014 by Jo Manning

The antidepressant benefits of the Indian spice turmeric have been supported by the results of a trial run by a Murdoch University researcher.

Dr Adrian Lopresti from the School of Psychology and Exercise Science studied the effects of , the medicinal compound which gives turmeric its distinctive yellow colour, in a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study of 56 volunteers with a . Half were treated with a patented curcumin extract (500mg twice daily) and the other half took a placebo for eight weeks.

From weeks four to eight of the study, Dr Lopresti found that curcumin was significantly more effective than the placebo in improving several mood-related symptoms in the volunteers. The compound had an even greater efficacy in a small subgroup of individuals with atypical depression, which can be characterised by significant weight gain or increased appetite and hypersomnia.

"In animal-based studies curcumin has been consistently shown to have antidepressant effects and it has been hypothesised that curcumin would have antidepressant effects in people with ," said Dr Lopresti, who is a clinical psychologist in a private practice.

"There have been a few positive human-based studies investigating the effects of curcumin in depression. However, this is the first randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study and over the longest duration."

Dr Lopresti said previous studies had found strong links between inflammation in the body and depression and that curcumin influenced several biological mechanisms including inflammation.

"The findings from this study suggest that depression can be treated with an agent that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties," he added.

"Our findings support consistent research that depression is associated with increased inflammation. Despite what has been previously believed, depression is not all about brain chemicals such as serotonin.

"This could be why there were particularly good results in the subgroup of volunteers with atypical depression because this condition is often associated with higher levels of inflammatory proteins."

Dr Lopresti said he hoped to replicate the study with a larger group of participants and over a longer period of time to provide a more robust evaluation of the clinical effectiveness of curcumin.

"It would be useful to investigate whether a higher dose of curcumin will have a greater and more rapid antidepressant effect," he said.

"But although curcumin has several potential health benefits, I would not recommend it as a first line of treatment for yet. More research is required."

Explore further: Oral curcumin may protect gut function

More information: "Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study," Journal of Affective Disorders Volume 167, Pages 368–375, October 1, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.06.001

Related Stories

Oral curcumin may protect gut function

September 25, 2014
Oral curcumin may be a viable therapy to improve intestinal barrier function changes caused by consuming a high-fat Western diet, according to a preclinical study by Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researchers.

Turmeric component reduces type 2 diabetes incidence

July 12, 2012
(HealthDay) -- A component of turmeric -- curcumin -- reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes and improves β-cell function in adults with prediabetes, according to a study published online July 6 in Diabetes Care.

Biomarkers to finetune depression treatment

November 8, 2013
The use of inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in psychiatry may have the potential to improve treatment efficacy and aid in the diagnosis of major depression, a review has found.

Curcumin blocks the metastasis of colon cancer by a novel mechanism

August 26, 2014
Novel research led by the UA Steele Children's Research Center has identified one of the mechanisms by which curcumin, a bioactive molecule derived from the spice turmeric, can prevent cancer cell metastasis in colon cancer.

Nutrient combination super pill to treat depression

September 9, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A new University of Melbourne and University of Queensland study will help people suffering from clinical depression by offering them new combination of nutrient-based medications to enhance mood.

Curcumin may protect premature infants' lungs

July 2, 2013
Turmeric, a key ingredient in spicy curry dishes, has long been known to have medicinal values. Now new research finds a substance in turmeric, curcumin, may provide lasting protection against potentially deadly lung damage ...

Recommended for you

Researchers crack the smile, describing three types by muscle movement

July 27, 2017
The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia.

Even babies can tell who's the boss, UW research says

July 27, 2017
The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party - all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish ...

Infants know what we like best, study finds

July 27, 2017
Behind the chubby cheeks and bright eyes of babies as young as 8 months lies the smoothly whirring mind of a social statistician, logging our every move and making odds on what a person is most likely to do next, suggests ...

DREAMers at greater risk for mental health distress

July 27, 2017
Immigrants who came to the United States illegally as small children and who meet the requirements of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as DREAMers, are at risk for mental health ...

Ketamine for depression encouraging, but questions remain around long-term use

July 27, 2017
A world-first systematic review into the safety of ketamine as a treatment for depression, published in the prestigious Lancet Psychiatry, shows the risks of long-term ketamine treatment remain unclear.

Negativity, be gone—new online tool can retrain your brain

July 27, 2017
Anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on people's lives. In some cases, the mental disorders lead to isolation, poverty and poor physical health, things that often cascade to future generations.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.