Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression

by Sayer Ji

A new study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research has confirmed for the first time in a randomized, controlled clinical trial that the primary polyphenol in turmeric known as curcumin is both safe and effective in treating serious states of depression.[1] The research was performed at the Department of Pharmacology, Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India, and involved patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).

 The objective of the trial was to compare the efficacy and safety of curcumin with fluoxetine (Prozac) in 60 patients diagnosed with MDD. Subjects were randomized to receive either a six week treatment with fluoxetine (20 mg) and curcumin (1000 mg) individually or their combination.

Success of the treatment was evaluated using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17). The results were reported as follows:
We observed that curcumin was well tolerated by all the patients. The proportion of responders as measured by the HAM-D17 scale was higher in the combination group (77.8%) than in the fluoxetine [Prozac] (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%) groups; however, these data were not statistically significant (P = 0.58). Interestingly, the mean change in HAM-D17 score at the end of six weeks was comparable in all three groups (P = 0.77). This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders. [emphasis added]
Discussion

If the results of this relatively small trial are applicable to a wider population, this is truly groundbreaking news. There was already a rather sizable body of preclinical research indicating that curcumin is an effective antidepressant in the animal model,[2] but this was not enough to sway most physicians who practice so-called "evidence based medicine" into actually suggesting it to patients as a Prozac or antidepressant alternative. And this is understandable, as the lack of solid human clinical evidence supporting the use of a natural substance is no small matter from a legal-regulatory perspective. Unless a substance has passed through the approximately 800 million dollar financial gauntlet of phase I, II, and III clinical trials required to apply for FDA drug approval, and has actually received that approval, there is scant legal protection for those who use natural medicines to prevent or treat disease and who might face a lawsuit, frivolous or genuine, as a result of a claim of injury.

Curcumin, of course, is extremely safe, with a 2010 phase I safety study finding that oral doses as high as 8 grams a day were well tolerated.[3] Fluoxetine, on the other hand, is highly controversial due to its well-known toxicity, and its laundry list of side effects, which include suicidal ideation (not a good side effect for someone already depressed!).

Also, even though it would appear the study found that curcumin and Prozac were equivalent in effectiveness, the fact that curcumin comes "...without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders," clearly proves its superiority over Prozac. There are also a wide range of additional side benefits that come with using curcumin, including its powerful neuroprotective properties. You will find no less than 109 studies on our database documenting curcumin's ability to protect, and in some cases restore brain function. [see research here: curcumin's neuroprotective properties]

Studies like this are greatly encouraging as they confirm the timeless wisdom of plant, mineral and nutrient-based medical interventions which were once the norm before pharmaceutical medicine, only recently, attempted to dominate the spectrum of alternatives available to the public.

Some final details that may be of assistance are: 1) curcumin is approximately 3-4% of the whole root powder by weight. 2) curcumin is poorly bioavailable, as it is alcohol and not water or fat soluble, so must be taken in higher quantities, or in combination with either carrier molecules such as the phospholipid phosphatidyl choline or bioavailability enhancers such as black pepper, or the primary compound responsible for increased absorption in black pepper: piperine.

For additional information on the topics covered here read:
600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World's Most Important Herb

Notes:

[1] Jayesh Sanmukhani, Vimal Satodia, Jaladhi Trivedi, Tejas Patel, Deepak Tiwari, Bharat Panchal, Ajay Goel, Chandra Bhanu Tripathi. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Jul 6. Epub 2013 Jul 6. PMID: 23832433

[2] GreenMedInfo.com, Animal Research on Curcumin's Anti-depressive Properties

[3] Masashi Kanai, Kenichi Yoshimura, Masanori Asada, Atsushi Imaizumi, Chihiro Suzuki, Shigemi Matsumoto, Takafumi Nishimura, Yukiko Mori, Toshihiko Masui, Yoshiya Kawaguchi, Kazuhiro Yanagihara, Shujiro Yazumi, Tsutomu Chiba, Sushovan Guha, Bharat B Aggarwal. A phase I/II study of gemcitabine-based chemotherapy plus curcumin for patients with gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 22. Epub 2010 Sep 22. PMID:20859741

Article originally posted at GreenMedInfo 

Sayer Ji is an author, researcher, lecturer, and advisory board member of the National Health Federation. He founded Greenmedinfo.com in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is internationally recognized as the largest and most widely referenced health resource of its kind. 

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4 comments:

  1. Those who have ears to hear, will hear, despite the absence of billion-dollar "evidence bases". The JimStoneFreelance w/s adduces horrific evidence concerning the SSRI drugs such as Prozac; he says that many post-mortem studies are showing calcified brains as a result of using this poison; many case histories self-report that those who have taken these drugs find that they have entirely lost the ability to respond emotionally. They are no longer fully human, in other words. Prozac et al. are chemicals synthesized using fluorine; this, in its fluoride form, is added to water and then calcifies the pineal gland, which is responsible, inter alia, for producing melatonin, which has a profound antioxidant and antidepressant effect.
    Join the dots...
    Tim Webb.

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  2. Wonderful blog! I truly love how it's easy on my eyes as well as the info are well written. I am wondering how I may be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which need to do the trick! Have a nice day!

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  3. Yes, turmeric is the multipurpose medicine because it protects us from many dangerous diseases like cancer, lungs disease and kidney problems. It is basically a natural anti-inflammatory that works as a drug without any type of side effects. It is also used for preventing depression. There are many ways of consumption of turmeric like you can consume it with milk as a shake, this is a most beneficial way to consume and it also help to purify our blood.
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  4. Turmeric is superb. It can be used to cure several problems like anything

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