2013 Study on Turmeric: A safe and natural Prozac alternative?
Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Adverse effects of antidepressants continue to impel researchers to find safer alternatives
- In this study, (1) group I received fluoxetine 20 mg/day in the morning (2) group II received curcumin 1000 mg/day (500 mg BD, containing total curcuminoids 88% and volatile oils 7% from rhizomes of Curcuma longa Linn); group III received fluoxetine 20 mg/day and curcumin 1000 mg/day (500 mg BD).
- Curcumin dose was calculated using data from Chinese medicine using dry rhizome of Curcuma longa at 3–9 g/70 kg adult for treatment of depression like disorders.
- Curcumin has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-cancer and neuroprotective properties.
- Curcumin’s anti-depressant effects include: “Neurogenesis in the hippocampus and rise in the serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline brain levels by inhibiting monoamine oxidase enzyme.”
- Curcumin was found to be equivalent to fluoxetine in terms of change in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) score from baseline after six weeks of treatment.
With researchers concluding, “curcumin may be an effective and safe agent when used as a modality of treatment in patients of MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders,” turmeric may just be the safe Prozac alternative they’ve been looking for!
Turmeric in Chinese Herbal Medicine
Interestingly enough, in Chinese medicine we have three different herbs that come from the plant genus Curcuma: 郁金 (Yu Jin), 姜黄 (Jiang Huang), and 莪术 (E Zhu). Jiang Huang is the only herb that exclusively comes from Curcuma longa (that which is cited above). However, Yu Jin can also come from this plant (specifically from the root tuber, as opposed to the rhizome, which is Jiang Huang).
While, Jiang Huang, Yu Jin and E Zhu have unique properties and are used to treat different symptoms and signs in Chinese medicine, these three herbs are all in the same class of herb: Herbs that Regulate the Blood. For this reason, in our medicine, Jiang Huang is considered contraindicated during pregnancy and Yu Jin contraindicated in case of obstruction due to qi deficiency.
As always, please consult a certified herbalist to make sure an herb is appropriate for your condition and your constitution before deciding on what would constitute a safe Prozac alternative for you.