Turmeric for anxiety – does it really work? A growing body of evidence shows inflammation could be behind many of today’s mood disorders; including anxiety.
Turmeric is a spice known for its wide array of health benefits. It contains compounds such as curcumin which are natural anti-inflammatory agents. This is why curcumin and turmeric are often used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
However, the latest studies suggest that turmeric could also help with mood disorders associated to chronic inflammation. The spice has been shown to decrease the levels of inflammatory proteins (e.g. interleukin 1β) and the stress hormone cortisol, as well as increase brain-derived neurotrophic factors. By doing so, it can have a profound impact on how you feel mentally.
Ready to learn more? In the sections below, you’ll see us break down the science of turmeric and how exactly it can help with anxiety…
How Can Turmeric Help With Anxiety?
Most of turmeric’s benefits come from its active compound curcumin. Which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants work by scavenging free radicals, unstable molecules that damage healthy tissues in your body and brain, and create inflammation along the path.
According to the latest studies, there’s a strong link between chronic inflammation and mood disorders. It’s reported that chronic neuroinflammation can make your depression and anxiety worse. Antioxidants in turmeric (mainly curcumin) may help relieve symptoms of these mood disorders by reducing chronic inflammation.
However, this is only half of the story. Other studies show that turmeric can normalize specific brain pathways linked to cognitive well-being. Turmeric has been suggested to elevate brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine which regulate mood. Not only that, turmeric’s compounds appear to lower the stress hormone cortisol too.
Study #1: Curcumin Reduces Symptoms of Mood Disorders
A double-blind placebo study recruited 56 individuals with major depression. It was led by Adrian Lopresti, Ph.D. at Murdoch University Australia, and published in 2014 in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Over a period of 8 weeks, the study participants received a high-quality extract containing turmeric’s main compound – curcumin. The results showed a significant reduction in symptoms of depression. However, even more impressively in this context, participants also saw their anxiety levels reduce.
Lopresti’s team concluded:
“Curcumin’s positive antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects are likely due to its ability to normalize specific physiological pathways. It appears to elevate neurotransmitters such as serotonin while lowering stress hormones, such as cortisol and is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Curcumin also provides protection to the brain.”
Study #2: Curcumin Fights Stress-Related Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are strongly correlated. In both conditions, you’ll typically see an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone that is also detrimental to our physical health.
According to a 2006 study published in Brain Research, chronic stress and anxiety can down-regulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that stimulates the growth of new cells in your brain.
Specifically, stress may lower BDNF levels in the hippocampus, an area of the brain which regulates your mood and cognitive function. However, Ying Xu, the leading scientist in the study, found that chronic administration of turmeric’s main compound curcumin blocked stress-induced reductions in BDNF levels.
The study team concluded: “These results provide compelling evidence that the behavioral effects of curcumin in chronically stressed animals, and by extension humans, may be related to their modulating effects on the HPA axis and neurotrophin factor expressions.”
Turmeric Dosage for Anxiety
While there’s no official agreement on effective turmeric or curcumin dose, the World Health Organization (WHO) deems 1.4mg per pound of body weight to be an acceptable daily dose. (source)
Higher doses of curcumin or turmeric aren’t recommended as long-term research on their effects is lacking.
Whatever type of turmeric you take, consider combining it with black pepper. Because, black pepper contains the compound ‘piperine’ which boosts turmeric’s absorption in your body by up to 2,000%. (source2)
Potential Risks of Using Turmeric for Anxiety
Although turmeric is generally safe, it’s still possible for you to experience side effects, depending on your genetics, lifestyle, diet, and other factors. The most common side effects of turmeric include:
- Upset Stomach
If taking a turmeric supplement, always start with the lowest dose to see how you react to it. And never go above the recommended dose on the label, even though high amounts of turmeric aren’t known to cause harm.
With everything said, remember that our article in for entertainment and informational purposes only! You should talk with a qualified professional before taking turmeric or any supplement, especially if you’re on any kind of medicine or have a condition!
So that concludes our article on Turmeric for Anxiety.
Anxiety is strongly correlated with conditions like chronic inflammation and elevated cortisol (stress hormone). Turmeric contains compounds – mainly curcumin – that have been shown in studies to help lower inflammation and cortisol levels.
Additionally, turmeric may help increase serotonin levels in the brain, which are associated with positive mood and calm thinking. Turmeric can also block the negative impacts of stress on the BDNF, a type of protein that stimulates brain cell growth in the hippocampus and is crucial for keeping symptoms of anxiety at bay.