Is the Curcumin in Turmeric More Effective Than Prozac for Depression?
7 minute read
Depression is the most common mental disease in the United States. In response to this, antidepressants are manufactured all year long to attempt to cure depressive symptoms.
Sadly, these medications can cause additional problems. It turns out that treating depression naturally is often a viable alternative with guidance from your medical care provider, and there are fewer side effects too. A compound in the common spice turmeric is a surprising way to improve your mental health.
Curcumin: The Natural Healing Compound in Turmeric
Curcumin is the main compound in the spice, turmeric. This spice is known for its bright yellow or orange color, flavorful taste, and is a great addition to curries. It is also well known in traditional medicine for its healing properties and has been used for centuries to heal many conditions. Curcumin possesses both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Beyond fighting common inflammatory-related conditions, such as arthritis and cancer, curcumin supplements have been researched for its potential role in treating depression.
One study found that curcumin therapy successfully reduces depressive symptoms when compared to the leading antidepressant medication, Prozac. What set curcumin apart was the fact that little to no side effects were reported.
Antidepressants can cause any number of side effects, including nausea, vomiting, blood pressure changes, dizziness, anxiety, and weight gain. With curcumin being more natural, these side effects can be avoided, and the depression itself can be successfully treated. Studies continue to research the effectiveness of curcumin on depression.
With all this said, antidepressant medication is still preferred for good reasons, and these should be discussed with your physician. Do not stop taking a prescribed medication before consulting with your doctor.
The Natural Approach to Fighting Depression
Curcumin is a strong antioxidant, which means it scavenges and rids the body of harmful free radicals. The reduction of oxidative damage also reduces inflammation, and this can alleviate depressive symptoms.
Studies have found a link between inflammation and depression but are not entirely sure which is the cause and which the result. The relationship does, however, tell us that by reducing inflammation, you can also reduce the symptoms of depression.
Depression has also been scientifically linked to reduced production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a growth hormone that impacts the function of your brain. Curcumin increases the presence of BDNF in the brain, which can lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms or a reduced risk of developing the disease.
Curcumin has also been linked to increased production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Anxiety is another common mental disease that exists alongside depression in many cases. Curcumin has been found to increase the production of DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Deficiency in this omega-3 has been linked to increased anxiety, which can trigger or cause depression. By reducing anxious thoughts or behaviors, curcumin can also help reduce depression.
Adding Curcumin to Your Diet
It is important to remember that curcumin is more bioavailable and better absorbed when heated or when consumed with black pepper. Be sure to get turmeric that has not been irradiated and avoid any that may contain fillers, as this will interfere with its overall effectiveness.
While you can always opt for a high-quality turmeric supplement as a convenient, effective option to help prevent or ease depressive symptoms, you can also add the spice to your diet with a few simple tips.
Dairy-Free Golden Milk
For a delicious, healthy turmeric snack that is easy on your digestive symptom, dairy-free golden milk is a great option. There are a number of ways to make Golden Milk, but this is one of the easiest.
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 cups almond milk
1-2 teaspoons raw honey
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small piece of ginger root or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
Small pinch of black pepper
Blend all the ingredients in a blender on high speed for 20-30 seconds. Pour into a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until hot but not boiling. Enjoy!
To make turmeric tea, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric to 4 cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes and then pour through a fine strainer before drinking.
Ginger can also be added to this as well for additional taste and health benefits. You can also sweeten with honey if the taste is a little too strong for your liking. This tea will be most beneficial when combined with or following food containing black pepper to help with absorption.
Add It to Your Meals
Turmeric can easily be added to rice, eggs, vegetables, and soups. The mild-flavored spice lends a beautiful golden color to your dish and a mouth-watering aroma.
Sprinkle it on vegetables before roasting, or add a few sprinkles to your soups and stews. It also adds a unique flavor to eggs, omelets, and quiches as well as that distinct golden glow.
Additionally, you can use turmeric as a rub for chicken or other meat. You can use this spice alone, or in combination with others depending on the flavor, you are going for. Remember to always add black pepper to the mix to ensure you get the best from the turmeric. Add it to marinades and sauces for meat and fish or sprinkle directly on to any meat for grilling, roasting, or frying.
Make a Turmeric Smoothie
Green smoothies or fruit smoothies are a good way to start the day. When you add a little turmeric, you get an additional health boost. Always include that tiny pinch of black pepper and start with only a quarter teaspoon of turmeric.
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Start slow with the turmeric and then you can increase the amount as you get used to the taste.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric extract can easily be found in supplemental form or added to your meals. Because of its low bioavailability, you want to be sure to sprinkle it alongside some black pepper, which increases its absorption into the body.
Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any curcumin for depression. While medications might still be necessary, the addition of curcumin can help things get better.