Can Curcumin Spice Up Your Mood?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

Turmeric is a super star in the health food and supplement world. We've only recently discovered its benefits in the West, when in fact, it has played a long part in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

Lucky for us, we now all have ample access to this valuable root today.

Used in cooking, turmeric gives a beautiful yellow color to food. That same color (imparted by curcumin) is responsible for its medicinal benefits.

So far, research studies show curcumin is beneficial in many compelling ways, but a new study has given it a really interesting twist, showing curcumin has anti-depressant properties similar to Prozac (fluoxetine).

Is Curcumin as Good as Prozac?

A group of 60 participants were included in the study. They were assigned to one of three groups for 6 weeks: 1000 mg of BCMTM curcumin daily, fluoxetine 20 mg daily, or a combination of both. A standardized test called a Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to assess the results.

Improvements were seen in all groups (fluoxetine 64.7% and curcumin 62.5%), with the greatest improvement seen in the combination group (77.8%).1 The differences, though, were not significant across the groups. The researchers found the curcumin to be as effective as the fluoxetine.

This is the first human study to find an anti-depressant effect for curcumin, although previous animal studies have shown mood-boosting effects.2

Curcumin Alleviates Brain Inflammation and Stimulates New Brain Cells

It is thought that curcumin works similarly to conventional anti-depressants, in that it supports the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine,3 which are often imbalanced in depression.

But it also works in unique ways: It alleviates brain inflammation, and it stimulates neurogenesis, the formation of new brain cells.4-5 These two factors are now believed to play a role in depression.6-7

It was formerly believed that the human brain could not form new neurons into adulthood. However, new research has since disproven this idea. Adults can develop neurons in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, where memories are stored.

This renewal of brain cells not only gives the brain plasticity, it also seems to protect it from stress and may even prevent depression. In one study, mice who received treatments that inhibited neurogenesis exhibited signs of depression.7

The Bottom Line

The results of this latest study are definitely meaningful. Many people simply don’t respond to conventional anti-depressants, and this new research brings something critical to the table — hope.

Should you discard your anti-depressants for curcumin? Not quite yet - more research is needed. That being said, curcumin does offer a myriad of other benefits, so it’s probably not a bad idea to give it a try anyway.

Do you take curcumin? If so, have you noticed any mood-boosting effects? Tell us about it in the comments!


  1. Phytother Res. 2013 Jul 6.
  2. Acta Pol Pharm. 2011 Sep-Oct;68(5):769-75.
  3. Scientific World Journal. 2009 Nov 1;9:1233-41.
  4. Mol Ther. 2011 Oct;19(10):1769-79.
  5. Brain Res. 2007 Aug 8;1162:9-18.
  6. Neurosci Lett. 2010 Nov 5;484(3):201-5.
  7. Nature. 2011 Aug 3;476(7361):458-61.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, why was there not a placebo group in this study? Casts doubt on the study.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Good question! The reason being, the researchers wanted to compare the effects of curcumin to fluoxetine. Here is the link to the actual study:

илья колдунов said...

I don't see the basis to spend money on curcumin.
instead I several times a day add in food a tablespoon (with top) powder of a usual turmeric from a supermarket. + black pepper - for absorption increase. How considers, replacement curcumin on a large number of a turmeric - it is equivalent?

Ayurveda Therapy said...

Spices are playing very important role in human life like it also enhance mood sometimes from the medium of food. So likely Curcumin Spice is good for mood...

LifeExtension said...

илья колдунов - Curcumin is thought to be the key ingredient in turmeric responsible for its beneficial effects. Taking a curcumin supplement is the easiest way to obtain a high concentration of curcuminoids in one's diet. One study examined the amount of curcumin in several turmeric or curry containing powders. They found small amounts of curcumin in the products, with one product containing as much as 3.14% curcumin by weight.

Anonymous said...

Can you link that study? How potent is LE bio curcumin on average to curcumin powder+black pepper..?

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Which study are you referring to? Our curcumin is close to 8 times more absorbable than a conventional version with black pepper. More info here:

Priyanka said...

The curcumin extracts are known to be the best options for healing the wounds. The curcumin extracs have numerous health benefits for which they have become the number one choice of people in the present days.

Anonymous said...

I found this article because I have been taking walmart curcumin (Turmeric) 500 ml pills...and have noticed that my mood has suddenly changed. I have not been depressed before taking them, but since I have been taking them over a week seems like I have a more energetic attitude, and I don't shut up. My husband seems annoyed by me talking all the time. My mother called yesterday and I "rattled" on for about an hour. I usually get this way very infrequently. I even asked my husband, on his rare day off while getting rest...if he wanted to go shovel snow with me in the driveway (not like me at all). Then tonight when I would have been ready to resign around 9:00, I talked him into another semi big job of helping me vacuum our newly carpeted closet and reload all of our Christmas decorations. He finally went to bed, where I followed him. He hinted for me to stop talking and let him get to sleep for an early morning. LOL. You can probably even tell from this post that I am still pumped at 11:48. Just very strange, it must be the Turmeric. They were only around 6 or 7 dollars at Walmart...I may be onto something.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - Interesting! Perhaps it is the curcumin. The only way to know is to discontinue it for some time and to try it again. Perhaps this new found energy is a good thing. Keep us posted!

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