Turmeric, or Curcuma longa/Curcuma domestica, is one of the most versatile and beneficial spices we can consume, with incredibly potent medicinal properties.
It has been used in the traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, in the treatments of various conditions and diseases, including:
- Common cold,
- Liver disease,
- Multiple sclerosis,
- Sexually transmitted diseases (e.g. hepatitis C, genital herpes),
- Urinary tract infections,
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and others.
Numerous studies have confirmed the healing benefits of turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin, but despite its physical health benefits, it has been found that it also improves mental health and cognition.
Namely, turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have found that curcumin – when used in highly bioavailable forms (e.g. nanocurcumin) – can fight the inflammatory response.
It is a polyphenol, a well-researched class of organic chemicals recognized by their physiological benefits, particularly for reducing inflammation markers.
The bioavailability of nanocurcumin is about 80 to 95 percent, which is 40 times higher than that of “normal” curcumin. Also, nanocurcumin passes the blood-brain barrier, so it affects brain function more directly.
Inflammation has numerous negative effects on the function of the brain, and according to Robert J. Hedaya, MD, a psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University Medical Center, it impacts hormones and other neurotransmitters in the brain.
Moreover, it lowers the levels of serotonin and thus leads to anxiety, depression, and memory issues. On the other hand, inflammation elevates dopamine levels and contributes to anxiety, insomnia, and agitation.
A 2010 study published in the journal Immunology showed that “chronic immune activation” is a common feature of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as infections, trauma, immune-mediated disorders, and ischemia.
Neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, Huntington disease, and prion diseases.
Adrian Lopresti, Ph.D. maintains that the antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties of curcumin normalize specific physiological pathways, and increase neurotransmitters like serotonin while lowering stress hormones.
Depression is a common, treatable disorder which can be a result of various different factors. Major depression affects about 10-15% of people in their lifestyle, but it remains underdetected globally, and the success rate of current treatment is only 20-40%.
Numerous depression treatments are associated with side effects from long-term use, such as weight gain, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction.
Curcumin works simultaneously on a lot of pathways associated with depression, so it is believed to be the most promising therapeutic targets to treat depressive behavior.
In a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical, Directors Association published a 2017 study in which researchers performed a metanalysis of six clinical trials totaling 377 patients. Findings showed that curcumin, in comparison to a placebo ‘sugar pill”, lowered subjective depression symptoms by 35 percent.
Also, the journal Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology published a 2018 study which showed that the administration of nanocurcumin – a more bioavailable form of curcumin – restored the levels of both serotonin and dopamine in rats, and elevated alpha, beta-1, beta-2, and theta brain waves, in just a week.
Alpha waves typically mean a relaxed, aware mindset, beta, an awake, active mindset; while theta waves are often seen in sleep and deep meditation.
Therefore, in order to use these properties of turmeric and lower stress and depression, you can make yourself one incredibly healthy drink that will naturally soothe your mind and body.
Here is how to make turmeric lemonade:
- 4 tablespoons of freshly ground turmeric root
- 2 teaspoons of grated ginger
- A ½ cup of fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- A ½ cup of orange juice
- 5 cups of water
Boil the water, and add the turmeric and ginger in a glass jar. Pour the boiled water over them, steep for 10 minutes, and add the honey. Stir, strain, and add the lemon juice. Leave to cool, and enjoy it!
Yet, remember that you should not replace prescribed antidepressants with curcumin or turmeric without previously consulting your doctor.
Also, numerous studies suggest that turmeric should be used in the correct way for at least 4 weeks before it has an effect, so you should not expect immediate results.
You can also purchase turmeric supplements at local health and food stores or online, and they are also available in tincture or extract forms.
Note that the form is not important, what matters is to see the amount of curcumin (or curcuminoids) included in each supplement, and choose high percentages — around 95 percent is ideal.
You can also find supplements available with 100 percent pure extracted curcumin, and a pure supplement is definitely the best choice you can make.