Food and Nutrition, Health, Herbs and Spices, Turmeric Curcumin

Depression: A Case for Turmeric

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a quite popular spice with its blazing yellow color that is commonly used in Asian cuisines. Turmeric has a prolonged history of its Ayurvedic usage to treat various health-related ailments. The rootstalk of turmeric contains an active substance, curcumin, that constitutes numerous health benefits. Many people certainly wonder that whether the use of turmeric can actually be helpful in treating depression. The answer leans more to yes.

Understanding a Link Between Depression and Inflammation

Major depressive disorder, also known as MDD, is one of the most common debilitating disorders. Previous studies have tried to make a link between depression and inflammation. According to research, it’s not clear if inflammation leads to depression or vice versa. Nevertheless, it’s suggested that depression and inflammation can aggravate one another. People with depression usually have high oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. This can severely affect all the major body’s organs. Chronic inflammation can subsequently reduce the levels of two important hormones associated with mood and behavior: serotonin and dopamine.

Curcumin as Anti-Depressant

Curcumin can be considered as a promising therapeutic solution for treating depression in the future. Curcumin manifests unique anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties that can be greatly helpful in depression therapy. The compound actively removes free radicals that are generally responsible for oxidative stress. This phenomenon is harmful to the cells and consequently causes inflammation in the body. The decreased level of hormones, like serotonin and dopamine, can cause the degeneration of brain cells. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can revive neurotransmitter activity and protect the brain. This can progressively improve one’s mood (Lopresti et al., 2014). This also reduces the level of stress hormones, like cortisol, in the body.

The Use of Turmeric Along with Anti-depressant Drugs

Curcumin can be considered a natural and safe option to help mitigate the symptoms of depression. The question is whether turmeric should be used alone or in combination with the prescribed antidepressant drugs. Some previous studies have revealed that turmeric may assist in bolstering the activity of antidepressants (Yu et al., 2015). A combination of both could potentially help combat depression’s effects.

Taking Curcumin as a Supplement vs Naturally

You can add turmeric to your daily meals or ingest it as a supplement. Turmeric supplements are easily available at local stores. The bottle’s label shows the amount of curcumin included in the supplements, so you can get an idea of how much curcumin you’d be taking per dose. While turmeric in its natural form and supplement form is entirely safe, you should always be aware of possible side effects such as allergies, stomach problems, and nausea.

The bottom-line

There are bright prospects of curcumin usage as an antidepressant in the future. However, more detailed research is still needed to formally recommend curcumin as a treatment for depression. If you wish to investigate its medical usage, you should talk with your doctor.


  • Lopresti, A. L., Maes, M., Maker, G. L., Hood, S. D., & Drummond, P. D. J. J. o. a. d. (2014). Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. 167, 368-375.
  • Yu, J.-J., Pei, L.-B., Zhang, Y., Wen, Z.-Y., & Yang, J.-L. J. J. o. c. p. (2015). Chronic supplementation of curcumin enhances the efficacy of antidepressants in major depressive disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. 35(4), 406-410.