Turmeric benefits for Depression

Depression is a neurological disorder; which has several symptoms, including  irritable mood, less interest to perform any work, does not want perform any pleasurable activities, unexplained significant  weight gain or loss due to uncontrolled eating habit or anorexia, disturbed sleep cycle, which often cause daytime unremitting sleeping habit, feeling of worthlessness, guilt feelings, psychological agitation,  retardation from work, easy to get fatigue, loss of energy, concentrating power disrupted and suicidal tendencies. [1]

Worldwide almost 15-20% of the population is suffering from depression, because of complications are increasing in life and often fussy situations come up.  In the market, anti-depressant drugs are available; but those are having multiple side effects and doctors usually not prefer to prescribe them frequently. Therefore, almost 20-30% of depression patients, who are not severely affected cannot get any treatment medications.  If we get a natural herbal remedy for depression treatment, then that will solve the problem. [1]

In the pharmaceutical industry, Researchers found that turmeric has a promising anti-depressant effect, which is safe and cost-effective to treat mild to moderate depression. The bioactive constituent of turmeric i.e. curcumin has the inhibitory effect of monoamine oxidase enzyme and provide the antidepressant effect.[1]

Mechanism of action of turmeric as an anti-depressant1

Depression is a symptomatic condition of a decreased level of certain neurotransmitters including dopamine, norepinephrine,  and serotonin.  These neurotransmitters activity is regulated by monoamine oxidase enzyme. There is two monoamine oxidase – MAO 1 and MAO 2 are primarily present in our physiological system. Elevation of these enzyme activity leads to depression, as they are responsible for degradation of dopamine, norepinephrine,  and serotonin neurotransmitters. But apart from this neurotransmitters degradation, several other physiological alterations also leads to depression.  Following are the different mechanism of actions of turmeric as an anti-depressant.

Researchers found that curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric is able to inhibit both MAO 1 and MAO 2 activity and thus increases the level of dopamine, norepinephrine,  and serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain.

The further study results also precise the mechanism of action of curcumin. Experts explain the anti-depressant effect of curcumin is mainly achieved due to serotoninergic and dopaminergic activity. Thus Turmeric acts as an anti-depressant. However, curcumin is more potent serotoninergic activity. Curcumin reduces the reuptake of serotonin by acting on serotonin receptors (5-HTRs).

Chronic stress condition also causes depression. Our adrenal gland secretion is more during stress, but chronic stress leads to functional disturbance in adrenal gland and steroidal adrenal secretion is decreased. This negatively affects the dopamine, norepinephrine,  and serotonin level. Curcumin can recover the stress induce depression, as it improves corticosterone levels in serum. In addition, curcumin assist to maintain the energy level by improving sucrose (a type of sugar) utilization in the cells. This also up-regulates dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin level.

Curcumin has neurogenesis ability in a stressed condition and can reverse the stress-induced reduction of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus. Another physiological factor like glutamate can also decrease the BDNF level, but curcumin also reverses glutamate induce BDNF level reduction. Therefore, precisely we can illustrate that turmeric has these following positive effects in our physiological system, which avert a depression.

  • Curcumin can inhibit Monoamine oxidase (MAO)
  • Curcumin can improve neurotransmission by modulating serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters in brain
  • Curcumin raise the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Turmeric is a potent anti-oxidant anti-inflammatory agent.

Clinical research evidence2

A meta-analysis was conducted with six placeboes controlled clinical trial, in which total 377 depression patients participated. The aim of this meta-analysis is to evaluate the anti-depressant effect of curcumin in humans. The analysis report showed that curcumin has significant anti-depressant activity and it also has anxiolytic property. There was no adverse effect reported in any research result. therefore turmeric is a well-tolerated easily available herbal, natural therapy to combat depression.

Turmeric alone cannot give potential health benefits, as it’s active constituent, curcumin is rapidly broken down in the liver and gut wall and unable to absorb in the blood. However, research study report finding suggested adding a small quantity of black pepper to turmeric, which can enhance curcumin level in blood. black pepper is a natural source of piperine, which enhances the bioavailability of the curcumin.[1]





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