Depression is another health problem that turmeric can help improve. Studies have shown that turmeric shows promise as a natural treatment for depression.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is not merely feeling “down in the dumps” or not having enough energy for the day’s activities. It is a general feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. There are constant feelings of fatigue, a sense of feeling tired all the time even upon waking up in the morning.
Depression develops as a result of changes in the brain’s neurochemical makeup and physical structure. For one, depression is linked to lower levels of BDNF. The hippocampi of depressed people are shrunken. The hippocampus of an area in the brain that plays a vital role in memory and learning.
Turmeric and Depression
One controlled trial demonstrated how effective turmeric is in treating depression. Participants were randomly placed in 3 different groups. One group received Prozac, one group took 1 gram of turmeric and the third group took both Prozac and curcumin for 6 weeks. Results were compared. The group that took curcumin had the same results (improved mood) as the group that took Prozac. The third group that took both Prozac and curcumin had the best results. This study showed that curcumin is an effective antidepressant, comparable to the anti-depressant medications currently being used.
Another influence of turmeric is on BDNF. Turmeric boosts BDNF levels. This can potentially reverse the changes in brain structure such as the shrinkage of the hippocampus.
Curcumin in turmeric has protective actions on the brain to prevent the development and worsening of depression. These are:
Inhibits inflammatory response and oxidative damage that depression promotes through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions
Major depression is characterized by the presence of low levels of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase. There are also low levels of antioxidants like vitamin E, zinc and glutathione. These compounds are very important in protecting the tissues from ROS or reactive oxygen species. This is a compound that can damage proteins, DNA and fatty acids. Lower antioxidant levels allow ROS to increase and cause oxygen deficiency to the brain tissues. This can lead to brain oxidative stress and set off a cascade that promotes development of depression.
Pro-inflammatory molecules such as neutrophils are activated through the inflammatory pathway. This activation leads to higher production of nitric acid. This increased production can lead to nitrosative stress. This can cause damage to proteins and DNA in the brain.
Increases neurotrophic factor levels that maintain the proper and normal growth and maintenance of the brain’s nerve cells.
Curcumin inhibits the protein NK-kappa B or NF-kb (nuclear factor- kappa B). This protein binds to DNA and promotes the expression of the gene that supports inflammation, such as the nitric oxide synthase and the COX-2 gene.
Modulates the neurotransmitter levels in the brain
Curcumin in turmeric has been demonstrated to be effective in controlling the various neurotransmitter levels in the body. This includes neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. People suffering from depression have low levels of these neurotransmitters. Curcuma increases their levels and improves depression symptoms.
How to take turmeric for depression
There is no set dosage and administration guideline regarding taking turmeric for depression. However, according to those who have already tried it, taking turmeric around 5 to 6 grams per day helps. This will be taking around 1 teaspoon daily. Dosages can be increased to as much as 2 to 3 teaspoons per day.