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Curcumin Eases Both Depression and Anxiety

Research demonstrates that either low-dose or high-dose curcumin extract can improve scores measuring depression and anxiety.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the yellow spice turmeric. Numerous studies have confirmed its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Could it help against depression and anxiety?

Studying Curcumin for Depression and Anxiety:

Preliminary research has suggested that it might also have antidepressant effects. A new study from Australia reinforces this conclusion.

How the Study Was Set Up:

Investigators recruited 123 adults with major depressive disorder. The volunteers were randomized into four groups. In addition to placebo, they were given low-dose curcumin extract (250 mg twice daily), high-dose curcumin extract (500 mg twice daily) and a combination of low-dose curcumin and saffron extract (15 mg twice a day). The extract used was BCM-95. The study lasted for three months.

How the Volunteers Responded:

People in the groups receiving curcumin had improvements in both depression and anxiety scores. Saffron did not make a significant difference.

The researchers conclude that both low and high doses of curcumin are helpful, especially against atypical depression.

Journal of Affective Disorders, Jan. 1, 2017

We suggest that any time you can get the same benefit from a low dose as from a high dose, go with the lower dose. In most cases, it is less likely to produce side effects.

Adverse Reactions to Curcumin?

Even though it is a natural compound, some people react badly to curcumin. They may break out in the hives typical of an allergic reaction or they may experience digestive upset. People taking the anticoagulant warfarin should not add curcumin to their regimen. We have received reports that the combination pushes INR too high. This indicates a serious risk of bleeding.

You can learn more about depression and other nondrug approaches in our Guide to Dealing with Depression.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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