Turmeric

Unless you’ve been on a deserted island or otherwise off-grid for years, you have probably heard about the wonders of turmeric, or its active ingredient curcumin. It is definitely an herb you’ll want to know about.

Turmeric is root that looks somewhat similar to ginger, except the flesh is bright orange. It’s used extensively in Indian food and has recently gained great popularity in the kitchen and as a supplement. It is as a natural yellow dye and gives curry powder its bright yellow hue. In fact, the color is stronger than the flavor, which is rather subtle.

Primarily known as a pain reliever for arthritis and joint/muscle issues, curcumin has many other important health applications due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Here are some areas where curcumin can be beneficial as part of a holistic approach to health and disease control.

  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Bronchitis and Asthma
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Skin Diseases
  • Diabetes

As you can see, turmeric/curcumin has many health benefits. Additionally, this herb is considered safe, although it potentially slows blood clotting–like aspirin.

One of the perhaps more surprising uses for turmeric is in the treatment of depression. In these days of social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many people are struggling with feelings of loss, loneliness, and isolation. These feelings can be a normal reaction to these difficult times and not necessarily indicative of chronic clinical depression. Drugs may not be in the first choice for people feeling uncharacteristically blue or down in the dumps. There are many ways to help prevent and cope with mild cases of depression, but one promising area is the use of curcumin.

Studies have been conducted on patients with depression, using curcumin either with or without prescription anti-depressants. There were no drug interactions, and most of the studies showed equal or slightly better effects on depression with curcumin over drugs… and with fewer side effects.

Depression has a number of biological causes, including low serotonin, low dopamine, HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) imbalances, and inflammation. There are certain pathways that lead to these deficiencies and imbalances, and curcumin influences ALL of these pathways. It has consequently been studied for its potential use as a natural approach to fighting depression.

However, curcumin is not absorbed well by the body, so it’s important to find a form that is well bioavailable, like BCM-95 curcumin. Dr. Adrian Lopresti, founder of Personalised Integrative (PI) Therapy in Australia, has been studying this particular type of curcumin for years. A recent study used 500mg twice daily (1000mg/day) for 8 weeks (minimum) to obtain the best results in patients with depression. He hopes to start another trial using 1500mg a day.

According to MedMD, curcumin is rated Likely Safe, and they are usually very reluctant to say that about anything! It might cause stomach upset in some people, so Dr. Lopresti recommends that anyone with existing stomach or intestinal issues should start with one capsule a day rather than 2, and build up. As an anti-inflammatory it can reduce blood clotting, just like aspirin. Keep that in mind if you’re taking other blood thinning meds.

For medicinal purposes, standardized extracts or BCM-95 work best, but in the meantime, enjoy cooking with turmeric and eating delicious Indian dishes that include it.

Find BCM-95 curcumin in certain curcumin supplements such as the Terry Naturally brand.

Copyright © Bobbi Mullins, originally published November 2014

References:

Lemerond, T. Curcumin, The All-In-One Solution
Lopresti, A. Curcumin and Other Natural Treatments for Depression. http://www.terrytalksnutrition.com/webinars/
Stress, Depression and the Holidays. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
Turmeric, Side Effects and Interactions. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662&activeingredientname=turmeric

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