Curcumin: The Wonder Drug That Works

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Curcumin: The Wonder Drug That Works

Add to a growing literature exploring the efficacy of curcumin, an active polyphenol in the Indian spice, turmeric, comes a study entitled Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. This intervention, while still made in patients uncontrolled for active medication treatment, brings therapeutic relevance to the model of depression as a heterogeneous syndrome with multiple causes including hormonal, inflammatory, and energetic. Curcumin is simultaneously a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective agent, hormonal and neurochemical modulator, and as a food, it is one that interacts with our genome in a modulatory fashion rather than the more hijacking nature of a pharmaceutical.

This study found that, at 4-8 weeks, curcumin separated from placebo on anxiety and depression parameters, and particularly for those with a more "atypical depression" characterized by overeating, sleeping, and interpersonal sensitivity. This subtype of depression is considered to be less responsive to standard treatment, and more inflammatory in nature. They state:

The current study therefore adds to the aforementioned ones as the length of treatment was extended to 8 weeks, double-blind placebo controlled conditions were included, and curcumin was used a standalone treatment or was used in patients undergoing pre-existing, stabilised antidepressant or psychological therapies.

The treatment group was offered 1g (500mg twice daily), despite curcumin's safety profile at dosages 18 times this amount. I would love to see a future study that looks at first episode depressive patients, offers them a treatment such as this along with other lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, and meditation instruction. The response rate would likely double that of any available medication. In the meantime, having a benign treatment that separates from placebo at four weeks is a start, and certainly a place to focus while we attempt to extricate our population from the grips of psychotropics.

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your OwnOwn Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is the founder of the online healing program Vital Mind Reset, and the membership community, Vital Life Project. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from M.I.T. in Systems Neuroscience. She is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Learn More