Giving a push to the nutraceutical qualities of turmeric, Australian universities have found out that the yellow spice can be used in fighting cancer and depression. Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid derived from turmeric influences several biological mechanisms associated with major depression, namely those associated with monoaminergic activity, immune-inflammatory and oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity and neuroprogression, the study said.
It is effective for the treatment of depressive symptoms in individuals with major depressive disorder. Curcumin is the substance in turmeric which gives the yellow colour.
The study named “Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised,double-blind,placebo controlled study” by Murdoch University, Deakin University and University of Western Australia and was released in May. Another study in this regard was also done by Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and came with similar findings.
“Partial support is provided for the anti-depressent effects of curcumin in people with major depressive disorder, evidenced by benefits occurring 4 to 8 weeks after treatment. Investigations with larger sample size, over extended treatment periods and with varying curcumin dosages are required,” the study concludes. Experts point out that the study has got great significance for India as India is the largest produce of turmeric with 10 lakh tonnes per year. Earlier, the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric were found out by experts.
“Most of the drugs available in the market against depression have side effects. Since turmeric is a natural product, the side effects could be avoided. Though this is an initial study the findings are significant. A large scale study will only prove the commercial aspects of the research,” said P J Kunjachan, Managing Director, Arjuna Natural Extracts, a company engaged in turmeric extract production. He pointed out that the medicinal properties of the spice was long known as it was largely used in Ayurvedic treatments.
In India, Andhra Pradesh and TN are the largest growers of this spice. Curcumin is the most active compound of turmeric and comprises 2-8 % of most turmeric preparations.