Curcumin, a compound from turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of the most effective natural medicines on the planet. It truly does everything – stops pain, cancer, liver disease, and depression. A clinical study of curcumin and individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) divided into three groups to compare the efficacy of high absorption curcumin (curcumin blended with turmeric essential oil), the prescription anti-depressive fluoxetine, or a combination of the two.
The best response, measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17), was in the group using the combination of fluoxetine and curcumin at 77.8 percent. But interestingly, the siskengle-therapy groups scored almost exactly the same, with fluoxetine at 64.7 percent and curcumin at 62.5 percent — numbers so close that the data is not statistically significant from one another.
So this study showed that curcumin was, in reality, as effective as a prescription drug and proved that it can be used as a treatment for patients with MDD.
In another placebo-controlled clinical trial, individuals started seeing significant improvement in four weeks, but they were about equal to that of the placebo. However, by eight weeks, the differences were clear, and those in the curcumin group noted substantial improvements. The curcumin dosage level was 500 mg twice daily, which is simple to add to an existing regimen. One thing to note is that the curcumin used in these studies (BCM-95/Curcugreen) is blended with turmeric essential oil for better absorption, blood retention, and the additional benefits of ar-turmerone, a compound in the oil.
Follow up analysis on this study found that curcumin reduced a number of biomarkers associated with depression as well – so these actions go above and beyond subjective reported feelings or expectations. To put it simply, curcumin works for fighting symptoms of depression.
Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, Patel T, Tiwari D, Panchal B, Goel A, Tripathi CB. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Jul 6.
Curcumin, an active ingredient of Curcuma longa Linn (Zingiberaceae), has shown potential antidepressant-like activity in animal studies. The objectives of this trial were to compare the efficacy and safety of curcumin with fluoxetine in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Herein, 60 patients diagnosed with MDD were randomized in a 1:1:1 ratio for six weeks observer-masked treatment with fluoxetine (20 mg) and curcumin (1000 mg) individually or their combination. The primary efficacy variable was response rates according to Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, 17-item version (HAM-D17). The secondary efficacy variable was the mean change in HAM-D17 score after six weeks. We observed that curcumin was well tolerated by all the patients. The proportion of responders as measured by the HAM-D17 scale was higher in the combination group (77.8%) than in the fluoxetine (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%) groups; however, these data were not statistically significant (P = 0.58). Interestingly, the mean change in HAM-D17 score at the end of six weeks was comparable in all three groups (P = 0.77). This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders. .
Lopresti AL, Maes M, Maker GL, Hood SD, Drummond PD. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:368-75.
BACKGROUND: Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid derived from the spice turmeric, influences several biological mechanisms associated with major depression, namely those associated with monoaminergic activity, immune-inflammatory and oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity and neuroprogression. We hypothesised that curcumin would be effective for the treatment of depressive symptoms in individuals with major depressive disorder.
METHODS: In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 56 individuals with major depressive disorder were treated with curcumin (500 mg twice daily) or placebo for 8 weeks. The primary measure was the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology self-rated version (IDS-SR30). Secondary outcomes included IDS-SR30 factor scores and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).
RESULTS: From baseline to week 4, both curcumin and placebo were associated with improvements in IDS-SR30 total score and most secondary outcome measures. From weeks 4 to 8, curcumin was significantly more effective than placebo in improving several mood-related symptoms, demonstrated by a significant group x time interaction for IDS-SR30 total score (F1, 53=4.22, p=.045) and IDS-SR30 mood score (F1, 53=6.51, p=.014), and a non-significant trend for STAI trait score (F1, 48=2.86, p=.097). Greater efficacy from curcumin treatment was identified in a subgroup of individuals with atypical depression.
CONCLUSIONS: Partial support is provided for the antidepressant effects of curcumin in people with major depressive disorder, evidenced by benefits occurring 4 to 8 weeks after treatment.
LIMITATIONS: Investigations with larger sample sizes, over extended treatment periods, and with varying curcumin dosages are required.
Lopresti AL, Maes M, Meddens MJ, Maker GL, Arnoldussen E, Drummond PD. Curcumin and major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the potential of peripheral biomarkers to predict treatment response and antidepressant mechanisms of change. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Jan;25(1):38-50.
A recent randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study conducted by our research group, provided partial support for the efficacy of supplementation with a patented curcumin extract (500 mg, twice daily) for 8 weeks in reducing depressive symptoms in people with major depressive disorder. In the present paper, a secondary, exploratory analysis of salivary, urinary and blood biomarkers collected during this study was conducted to identify potential antidepressant mechanisms of action of curcumin. Pre and post-intervention samples were provided by 50 participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology self-rated version (IDS-SR30) was used as the primary depression outcome measure. Compared to placebo, 8 weeks of curcumin supplementation was associated with elevations in urinary thromboxane B2 (p<0.05), and substance P (p<0.001); while placebo supplementation was associated with reductions in aldosterone (p<0.05) and cortisol (p<0.05). Higher baseline plasma endothelin-1 (rs=-0.587; p<0.01) and leptin (rs=-0.470; p<0.05) in curcumin-treated individuals was associated with greater reductions in IDS-SR30 score after 8 weeks of treatment. Our findings demonstrate that curcumin supplementation influences several biomarkers that may be associated with its antidepressant mechanisms of action. Plasma concentrations of leptin and endothelin-1 seem to have particular relevance to treatment outcome. Further investigations using larger samples sizes are required to elucidate these findings, as the multiple statistical comparisons completed in this study increased the risk of type I errors.
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