Study Says This Spice Might Be As Effective For Depression As Prozac

This changes the game.

Study Says Tumeric For Depression Is As Effective As Prozac Getty 

Anyone who suffers from depression knows how painful and exhausting this illness can be. It's taxing on your mental health, and many individuals turn to antidepressants to reduce their symptoms.

Unfortunately, sufferers of depression sometimes opt for a more natural treatment. And those who happen to love Indian food are in for a pleasant surprise. 

It turns out that the spice turmeric contains an ingredient (curcumin) that might actually be more effective than Prozac when it comes to treating the symptoms of depression.


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Turmeric is used a lot in traditional Indian cooking. If you're a beauty nerd like me, you might also know it as that bright yellow spice you can make a facial mask with because of its awesome anti-inflammatory properties. 


But I'm going to be real, you guys. If I discover that I've been wasting thousands of dollars over the years buying prescription drugs for my depression when all I needed to be doing was raiding the spice cabinet, I am going to be a very special kind of mad. (Suffice to say, my insurance company will be receiving a strongly-worded note.)

For thousands of years, people have sworn by turmeric. From arthritis to weight loss and even IBS, there seems to be nothing that turmeric can't do. 

I'm inclined to believe it when it comes to the anti-inflammatory properties, but this newest discovery about what it can do as an antidepressant is almost like total science fiction.

A 2008 study found that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) increased the amount of serotonin in lab mice. In addition, a 2009 study said that this spice helps the brain regulate its neurotransmitters.


The neurotransmitters are also what Prozac treats, helping serotonin be used effectively by the brain. Turmeric can apparently have a similar effect!

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Obviously, there's a lot more research that needs to be done before we can all start gulping down heaping spoonfuls of turmeric on our sad days.

And, obviously, we should talk to our favorite medical providers before stopping or starting any treatment.

Though the studies from 2008 and 2009 may seem outdated, one study from 2013 gives me absolute tingles: 60 clinically depressed patients were given turmeric instead of Prozac for 6 weeks and reported feeling just as good as they would if they were taking Prozac. 


Also, a 2016 study found that curcumin can reduce symptoms of depression. The study found that it can be effective both on its own and also when combined with saffron, another herb.

Turmeric is available as a supplement that you can buy at health food stores. But before you begin a turmeric regime for your depression, I really do suggest seriously talking to your doctor.

There's a reason we haven't given up on Prozac and other similar drugs. They are an important part of many, many people's wellness. 

But if you're looking for more reasons to love mother earth, the fact that she literally grows a cure for sadness is a good place to start, in my humble opinion. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on October 2016 and was updated with the latest information.