Turmeric is an edible root used in cooking. It’s powdered into a bright yellow spice popular in Asian cuisine. I am South Asian, and I grew up ￼with a variety of spices from saffron to turmeric, cardamom to curry.￼
Turmeric also has a history of medicinal use. It contains an active compound, curcumin, that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
More recently, empirical evidence suggests that turmeric is good for your brain and mental health.￼
Research has found that curcumin has the potential to improve a number of health conditions, including depression. This includes mild depression and even major depressive disorder (MDD). Although not a cure-all, the evidence of supplementary power for improving mood, attention, and overall well-being is quite impressive and statistically robust￼.￼￼
A 2017 study found that turmeric reduced depression symptoms significantly, on its own, and even more amplified when combined with another classic South Asian spice, saffron.￼
The same effect was found in two different 2014 studies, one published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and the other in Phytotherapy Research.
These publications are available on Pub Med, the central website for the national institutes of health (NIH), Washington DC.￼
￼One day, turmeric, specifically, curcumin, could be a mainstream depression treatment or supplement. One emerging body of research has indicated that combined with an antidepressant, it can provide even more potent relief for depressive symptoms.￼
You likely won’t see a change in symptoms right away. The studies suggest that turmeric must be taken consistently for at least four weeks before it has an effect. Of course, always talk to your doctor before changing any treatment regimens. However, some patients are unable to tolerate any type of traditional antidepressant medication. Providing an alternative, in addition to self care, is a hopeful combination. ￼ South Asian cuisines are absolutely delicious, and that might be a promising start.￼￼