Turmeric for Depression – the Safer Choice
A lot of people want to know, is turmeric good for depression?
Yes, studies have confirmed that turmeric’s powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties reverse the effects of neuroinflammation, that affects normal brain functioning leading to cognitive health problems and depressive conditions.
The dark sides of anti-depressant drugs are their unpleasant side effects which make them an uncomfortable choice.
The good news is, turmeric can be used for curing depression. Known through the ages as a culinary spice, it has a range of phytochemicals, one of them being curcumin that helps reduces symptoms of depression.
Curcumin found in turmeric is one of the major contributors to turmeric’s medicinal properties. Studies also suggest curcumin to be better than or at least as effective as anti-depressant drugs in the treatment of depression.
As for side effects of turmeric, there are no life-threatening ones. Turmeric is a safe choice because of its non-toxicity and ability to cure depression.
But if you are already taking medications it is always advisable to consult your doctor before switching over to turmeric.
Note: Certain individuals such as pregnant women, lactating mothers and haemophiliacs are advised against using turmeric even though it may be consumed in normal foods.
What Are Common Signs of Depression
Have you had a day when everything seems to go wrong? The entire ground swept from under your feet and you’ve become a person different from the one you knew before.
We’ve all gone through these phases in life at some time or the other. Even when the weather changes to unpleasant you get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). These depressive feelings that leave us with disoriented and disappointed moods are often normal happenings and temporary.
According to WHO factsheet, a staggering 300 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression, with more women being affected than men. Depressed people often need to stay on medication for more than 10 years. That’s depressing too.
The reasons for these moods can be – pressure-cookers situations at work, gloomy weather, stressful relationships, environmental factors and peer pressure.
Our bodies and minds have mastered reflexes by attuning to the surroundings. The mind itself is excellent in adapting to situations, creating solutions and escape routes to carry on with life.
But if these symptoms persist for 2 weeks or more then it is a problem. If ignored, may become severe and lead to serious complications.
Then you would be unable to cope. You may break down, disintegrate and recede into your shells. You get into depressive mode. And that can mean having these following symptoms persisting for weeks.
Here Are Common Signs of Depression
- Excessive irritation, anger, sadness or worries for little or no reason
- Feeling hopeless, helpless or pessimistic
- Feeling guilty, worthless and empty
- No interest in anything, even eating
- Easily tired and drained off energy, yet unable to sleep or too much sleep
- Irregular appetite, excessive weight gain or loss
- Uninterested, slowed down in speech or movement
- Fidgety and restless
- No concentration, bad memory or inability to make decisions
- Trust others issue and suspicious
- Have suicidal tendencies or tendency to mutilate oneself
- Feeling non-existent body aches that show no symptoms and don’t respond to treatment
If you have these feelings then they may be signs of depression, and it can become a serious mental disorder.
What Causes Depression?
You may not realise it but a combination of many factors can disrupt normal life and affect the way you feel, think and go about your daily activities.
Here are the factors causing depression:
- Physiological: Physical changes in the brain the reason for which are still not clear.
- Hereditary: Blood relatives with histories of depression may pass on this condition.
- Brain chemistry: Slight changes in natural brain chemicals called neurotransmitters can result in mood instability.
- Hormonal changes: Changes in the body’s hormonal balance during adolescence, pregnancy, after childbirth, or after menopause.
- Certain personality traits: Developed during growing years – low-self esteem, being too dependent, pessimistic, parents being over-protective.
- Traumatic experiences: Abuses, grief, unhappy relationships, or other difficult life experiences.
- Other treatment: Drugs for other ailments can cause depression, among the elderly.
Depression can occur at any age. Children throwing tantrums or their mood-swings ranging from extreme shyness to high levels of anxiety to aggressive behaviours. While adolescents tend to sulk and are irritable beyond normal limits. All these behavioural patterns can turn into chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood and may cause major depressive disorder.
And on a more serious note, these symptoms can occur together with other serious illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer. Making treatment more difficult.
Depression can be frustrating, for both the depressed persons and their caregivers, taking tolls on the overall well-being of a family. Which is why depression shouldn’t be taken lightly if the symptoms show up.
Turmeric Vs Medications & Treatments for Depression
Doctors may treat depression with anti-depressants such as Prozac. It stabilizes the mood and restores the balance of brain chemicals.
If medicines don’t work doctors may resort brain stimulation therapies like ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). Done by sending electrical impulses to the brain under anaesthesia. But it may leave a patient disoriented and confused with loss of memory.
Newer forms of non-medicinal therapies are repetitive Transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
But the problem with anti-depressants is that it to be taken long term. Stopping them can lead to withdrawal symptoms and cause more problems. Although they are effective, there are alternative therapies available that work effectively without accompanying side effects.
A herbal medicine, St.John’s wort, is one popular choice. Other methods are psychotherapy and dietary supplements like omega-3 acids.
On the other hand —
Curcumin is the most important bioactive ingredient of turmeric. You can take it either as an extract, or consume whole spice in powder or slices form.
Consuming turmeric as a whole spice will get the best of both worlds – spicing up your food and absorbing its incredible medicinal benefits.
Curcumin is not easily bio-available, it cannot be absorbed into the body unless combined with fats or black pepper. Since turmeric contains a host of other beneficial compounds besides curcumin, consuming the whole turmeric increases curcumin’s bio-availability.
How Much Turmeric Can You Take in a Day?
Consume 1 teaspoon of turmeric a day with a pinch of black pepper, take it in food, or a smoothie or latte.
Taking turmeric milk before bedtime is a habit in many Indian households. It helps maintain a healthy mind, gut and gives a good night’s sleep and healthy complexion. Turmeric also has other health benefits, read more about the healing powers of turmeric.
The one thing to keep in mind, consume turmeric which is naturally high in curcumin. Curcumin content in turmeric normally ranges from 2% to 5%. But turmeric with the highest curcumin content of 7.5% -9.20 % is the Lakadong turmeric, grown only in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya, India. Lakadong is naturally farmed without the use of fertilisers in the traditional way by the indigenous Jaintia people.
Note: Buy pure turmeric from only reputed sellers. Do more thorough research on brands that sell pure, non-adulterated turmeric. Adulteration happens in turmeric. Here’s how.