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Curcumin for Anxiety

Curcumin for Anxiety


Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment. 

Curcumin is a bioactive compound obtained from turmeric known as Curcuma longa. It is a yellow color compound widely used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. Curcumin is best known for its powerful anti-inflammatory activities and has been used to reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression. Studies have revealed that curcumin can mitigate the adverse effects, stress produces on mental and physical health. It is an effective natural remedy for people suffering from stress and anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a common condition affecting an average of 38% of people worldwide and needs to be addressed in the early stages. It is a natural response of the body to stressful conditions like the loss of a loved one, work stress, and financial problems. [1]

It can affect the relationship, and work performance, and interferes with the person’s ability to follow a daily routine. Individuals with a family history of anxiety and with certain personality types are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders.

There is a long list of anti-anxiety drugs available in the market which may give relief from stress and anxiety but natural and conservative treatment should be adopted to minimize side effects. Curcumin is one of the natural herbs used to relieve anxiety disorders. It regulates brain chemicals and hormones level in the brain that calm the nerves and reduce anxiety. Studies have demonstrated that turmeric is more effective in reducing anxiety and depression than other anxiolytic drugs.

Is Curcumin Effective for Anxiety?

Curcumin has been used as a key ingredient in many traditional medicines including Chinese and Ayurvedic systems for its healing properties. Research has revealed that curcumin can regulate cell signaling pathways and assist in various health conditions. [2]

Curcumin, a bioactive component of turmeric can protect the brain due to its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve inflammation and improve DHA levels in the brain. It acts as a multi-targeting compound taking part in various cellular activities. Curcumin can balance brain chemicals and regulate hormone levels thus helping in reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. [3]

How Does It Work?

Curcumin acts in a variety of ways to improve brain health and relieve anxiety disorders. It improves serotonin and dopamine levels and reduces cortisol hormone which increases stress and anxiety. Curcumin acts in the following ways:

  • Reducing symptoms of Anxiety
  • Improving DHA levels in the brain
  • Enhancing serotonin and dopamine levels
  • Possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities
  • Acting as a natural anxiolytic compound

Curcumin Improves DHA Levels in Brain

DHA, docosahexaenoic acid is a compound necessary for brain functions and development. It helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, focus, and attention and is found naturally in seafood including salmon, cod, clams, tuna, mussels, and fish eggs. Deficiency of DHA leads to increased impaired brain functions like stress and anxiety, decreased cognition, and memory problems. DHA deficiency is common in people who refrain from seafood which is a good source of this compound.

Studies showed that curcumin can stimulate the molecular pathways responsible for DHA production. However, it can improve brain function and increase the ability of the brain to respond differently to stress and anxiety. [4]

Increase Serotonin and Dopamine Levels in the Brain

Curcumin, an active compound of turmeric can boost serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Serotonin and dopamine are the hormones that improve emotional health and wellbeing. The deficiency of these hormones may lead to emotional disturbance resulting in depression and anxiety. [5]

Possesses Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Activities

Most brain diseases result from neurodegeneration which is caused by increased oxidative damage from free radicals. Antioxidants are compounds that can neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, prevent cellular damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Thanks to the potent antioxidant activities of curcumin which are beneficial in reducing neurodegenerative diseases and improving brain health. [6]

Curcumin has a lengthy history of use as an anti-inflammatory compound and can reduce the risk of inflammatory conditions. Studies showed that it decreases inflammation of neuron cells and prevents degeneration of the brain. In a study, people suffering from anxiety symptoms showed increased inflammatory mediators like interleukins-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and C-reactive proteins. It showed an association between inflammation and anxiety levels in individuals. [7]

The anti-inflammatory activities of curcumin help reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Improve Symptoms of Anxiety

Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound having the ability to fight free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. It helps calm the nerves and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Curcumin can alleviate inflammation, reduce cortisol hormone and relieve anxiety disorders.

What Does Research Say?

According to a study, 123 individuals with depressive and anxiety disorders were categorized into four groups. They were given different doses of curcumin extract 250 mg twice daily, 500mg twice daily, and 15mg of curcumin extract with saffron and placebo for 12 weeks. 

Results demonstrated that all groups with curcumin treatment showed significant improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression. [8]

Another study was conducted to compare the effect of curcumin and placebo on anxiety. 30 obese individuals were instructed to use either 1g of curcumin or a placebo for 30 days. Results concluded that individuals with curcumin experienced a remarkable reduction in anxiety symptoms. [9]

Other Benefits of Curcumin

  • In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, curcumin helps relieve pain and inflammation associated with joint pain and injuries. [10]
  • Turmeric is used in cosmetics products to boost skin health, relieve acne, heal scars, brighten the skin and promote wound healing. [11]
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of curcumin help regulate cholesterol levels, prevent blood clotting, reduce blood pressure, and lower blood sugar levels.
  • Curcumin has the potential to relieve joint pain, speed up muscle recovery, help in detoxification, prevent obesity and relieve inflammatory bowel diseases.

Why is Curcumin Preferred for Anxiety?

There is a long list of medications used to relieve depression and anxiety, according to an estimate, the success rate ranges from 20 -40%.

Anxiolytic medications, when used for long periods can lead to adverse effects like weight gain, gastrointestinal disturbance, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, sleep problems, and memory loss.

Curcumin, on the other hand, can be used as natural anxiolytic therapy, and no side effects are reported when used in moderate quantities.

Bottom Line

Curcumin is a bioactive compound of Curcuma longa with a broad spectrum of uses for culinary and therapeutic purposes. Curcumin has been used in traditional medicine systems to relieve various health conditions. It possesses potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities which help reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative damage, and relieve stress and anxiety. 

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