Tags: Depression | curcumin | tumeric | spice | antidepressant

Spice Extract Relieves Depression Effectively as Drugs: Study

By Kathleen Walter and Nick Tate   |   Friday, 18 Oct 2013 09:41 AM

Antidepressants are among the drug industry's biggest sellers with more than 1 in 10 Americans taking such medications as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa. But these drugs are expensive, don't work for all patients, and can have serious negative side effects.
What if a natural supplement was just as effective as powerful prescription drugs without the cost and adverse effects? That's exactly what Ajay Goel, M.D., and his colleagues at Baylor University found in a groundbreaking new study of curcumin, the principal compound in the popular South Asian spice turmeric..
Dr. Goel, director of epigenetics and cancer prevention at Baylor University Medical Center, tells Newsmax Health his research is the first clinical trial to show that curcumin is nearly as powerful as Prozac, when it comes to easing depression symptoms.
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"It was a surprise to us to see that curcumin actually worked as good as the antidepressant," he says. "So this is amazing news."
Past research, primarily involving laboratory animals, suggested curcumin has antidepressant properties. So Dr. Goel and his team sought to examine its effects on people with depression. They enlisted three groups of 20 volunteers for the study: One took 500 milligrams of curcumin twice a day; the second was given Prozac; and the third received a combination of the two.
After six weeks, the team evaluated the symptoms of the patients using a standardized test of depression that tracks mood, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, weight loss, and other factors. The results showed the spice compound had roughly the same beneficial impact as Prozac on the patients.
"Yes, we still need to validate, we need to do further studies," says Dr. Goel, who reported his findings in the journal Phytotherapy Research. "But this initial evidence is very encouraging, considering that curcumin is safe, it is non-toxic, and it has many more beneficial effects … besides its ability control depression."
He adds that medication is an appropriate treatment for depression, but can pose long-term risks.
"These antidepressants, they are fine if you're taking them for a short time, but as you know depression is a chronic disease so the problem happens when you take these antidepressants for a long time," he says. "And when you do that you put yourself at risk for developing side effects and toxicity."
By contrast, the turmeric spice is a natural, non-toxic compound, even at high doses.
"The exciting aspect is that curcumin is extremely safe there is no virtual toxicity, there have been multiple human studies that have [shown] even when you take curcumin up to 12 grams a day for six months virtually there is no toxicity," he explains. "So this is very encouraging."
Although you can derive the benefits of curcumin by eating foods that contain turmeric, such as Indian curry dishes, most people in the U.S. don't eat enough of it to make a difference. Consequently, taking a curcumin supplement — he recommends a formulation known as BCM-95 that is 10 times more potent than standard curcumin — makes more sense for most Americans
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"In order to get the benefits of curcumin, you'll need to eat enough turmeric probably multiple times a day — two to three meals loaded with turmeric," he explains. "[So] for people in the Western world … I think it would be best to consume curcumin as a health supplement."

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Antidepressants are among the drug industry's biggest sellers, but are expensive and can have negative side effects. But new research has found curcumin, a compound in the spice turmeric, is just as effective as drugs without the cost and adverse effects.

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