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Curcumin: Potential Therapeutic Treatment for Depression

Friday March 2, 2018

With 1 in 6 adults in England suffering from a mental health issue in any given week(1), a new study offers hope for those suffering with depressive disorders (2).


Although the direct cause of mental disorders cannot be determined, new research suggests a possible link between the activation of stress and oxidative pathways in the body and chronic depression (2). In this recent research, the use of antioxidants, such as curcumin (the key active found in turmeric), may potentially support the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).



To support the therapeutic effects of curcumin on mental health, Kanchanatawan et al. performed a supplementation trial on 65 Thai patients suffering from MDD. The participants were supplemented with a daily dose of 500-1,500mg curcumin along with medical treatment for a period of 12 weeks, and assessed on anxiety and depression scales (HAM-A and MADRS).

After analysing the results, it was found that curcumin supplementation significantly enhanced scores on the assessment scales compared to placebo, which translates to improved mental health.

It is suggested that curcumin functions an anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory agent in the body (3). Thus, supplementing the diet with curcumin may relieve symptoms of chronic depression by reducing oxidative damage to the brain (2). In addition, no significant side effects were observed from taking the curcumin supplement. 

Overall, studies to date suggest that curcumin may safely be used alongside antidepressants to remedy MDD symptoms. However, a trial with a larger sample size is required to support these findings. This latest study adds to the body of evidence supporting the use of curcumin in depression and mood disorders.


Interestingly, turmeric and curcumin have both been extensively studied in other inflammatory conditions, including joint pain.

Author: Salma Dawood is a Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Human Nutrition.

1)      McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) 2016; Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014. Leeds: NHS digital
2)      Kanchanatawan B, Tangwongchai S, Sughondhabhirom A 2018; Add-on Treatment with Curcumin Has Antidepressive Effects in Thai Patients with Major Depression: Results of a Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study, Neurotox Res doi: 10.1007/s12640-017-9860-4.
3)      Menon VP, Sudheer AR. 2007; Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 595:105-25.

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: Nutrition News and ViewsTurmeric, Curcumin


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