Curcumin May Relieve Anxiety

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

The spice turmeric is known for a a number of impressive health benefits, but can it also reduce stress?

According to the results of a recent study, the answer may be yes.

Researchers from Iran found that curcumin, a derivative of turmeric, improved markers related to anxiety.

The results were published in the journal, Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine.

Curcumin Decreased Anxiety in Obese Participants

Curcumin helps to modulate key neurotransmitters that are implicated in mood-related disorders. Previous studies have shown that curcumin alleviates symptoms of depression.1

For this recent study, researchers recruited 30 obese participants and they were administered 1 gram of curcumin daily or a placebo for 30 days.

Mood was evaluated using two standardized tests called the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck Depression Inventory.

After two weeks, treatments were switched. The results showed curcumin decreased scores related to anxiety, indicating a benefit for the condition.2

How Does Curcumin Help Alleviate Anxiety?

The exact mechanisms behind curcumin’s mood boosting effects are not entirely known. Managing inflammation, a factor implicated in mood disorders, may be related to the benefits, as are other factors.3,4

Animal research shows curcumin may help to increase levels of DHA in the brain5, an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Additionally, curcumin combats oxidative stress, a component that is involved in neurodegenerative diseases, anxiety, and depression.

Lastly, we know that curcumin has been shown to decrease cortisol levels.6 Cortisol is a hormone that regulates stress in the human body. 

Overall, the mood-boosting properties of turmeric are multi-modal and deserve a closer inspection. Further studies are needed to confirm its stress-relieving effects.

How to Increase Your Curcumin Intake

Curcumin is a well-tolerated supplement. Up to 10 grams of use per day has been shown to be taken safely.

Some of the side effects related to its use include stomach upset and reflux. For optimal absorption, formulas including phospholipids (a type of fat) and turmerones (oils naturally found in the turmeric plant) are suggested.

They are superior in absorption to preparations containing pepper, in the form of piperine.


  1. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. 
  2. Chin J Integr Med. 2015 May;21(5):332-8. 
  3. Mol Ther. 2011 Oct;19(10):1769-79. 
  4. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 4;53:23-34. 
  5. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 May;1852(5):951-61. 
  6. J Nat Prod. 2009 Aug;72(8):1533-7.


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