You’re in luck if you’re like me and love Indian food! One of the most common spices in Indian dishes, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), has been studied extensively for its ability to improve memory, reduce inflammation, improve overall health and immunity, and alleviate symptoms of depression.
In my family, we use turmeric almost every day of the year. Many who aren’t familiar with turmeric as a cooking spice choose to take curcumin as a supplement. My wife and I prefer to use curcumin by adding it to family recipes.
There are only a few select supplements I frequently recommend in my practice. One of those is turmeric. With several hundred studies documenting its benefits and having experienced them in my personal life, it has earned a permanent place in my cupboard and medical practice.
Today I’d like to discuss two of the top benefits of curcumin: improving memory and supporting mood.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 40 adults over age 50 were given 180 milligrams of curcumin or a placebo daily for 18 months. Each participant previous to the study was experiencing significant trouble with memory loss.
Researchers could track any improvements made during the 18 months through regular cognitive assessments and brain scans.
Those who took curcumin daily experienced significant improvements in memory and attention abilities. It was in stark contrast to those on the placebo who experienced little to no progress.
“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inﬂammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” said Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center, and the study’s first author.
In a 2014 study done by the Department of Pharmacology at Government Medical College in India, researchers gave participants with Major Depressive Disorder either a daily dose of Prozac, Prozac + curcumin, or curcumin alone for six weeks.
The group taking the combination of Prozac + curcumin experienced the most improvement over the six weeks (77.8%) compared to the group taking only Prozac (64.7%) or curcumin alone (62.5%).
Researchers concluded, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”
Other Impressive Benefits of Curcumin
- Potent anti-inflammatory (3,4,5)
- Increases antioxidant capacity of the body (6,7,8)
- Lowers risk of brain disease (9,10)
- It may help reduce the risk of heart disease (11,12)
- It may be beneficial as a secondary cancer treatment (13,14,15)
- Alleviates symptoms of arthritis (16,17,18)
- Anti-aging properties (19,20)
Partha’s Prescriptions – 4 Ways To Add Curcumin To Your Daily Routine
- Turmeric Tea– Boil 4 cups of water. Add 1 tsp ground turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a mug. Add a little honey and fresh-squeezed lemon to taste.
- Turmeric Juice- With a high-quality juicer, juice two pinches of turmeric, two large handfuls of spinach, three large carrots, one cucumber, add one lemon. If you need it a little sweeter, add 1/4 of a green apple.
- Persimmon Fudge with Turmeric
- Dr. Nandi’s Jackfruit Curry
Curcumin is a powerful spice that can be beneficial for various health issues. Always work with your healthcare professional to create the best plan for your unique health challenges. You will be most successful in reaching your goals as you work as a team with your doctor and medical advisers.