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Curcumin supplements may have antidepressant potential.

Curcumin supplements may have antidepressant potential.

Curcumin – the bioactive ingredient in turmeric that lends the spice its iconic golden hue – has long been savored as a culinary staple in various parts of the world. During this time, many have extolled its benefits in a general sense, but it is only in recent years that scientists have truly begun dissecting how this compound provides nutrition for the brain and body.

To date, research has linked curcumin supplements with improved overall health among middle-aged individuals, reduced pain and inflammation for those with rheumatoid arthritis and the potential prevention of cancerous metastasis – among other medical applications. Now, a new review from a team of Indian researchers has begun to explore how curcumin – and other natural polyphenols found in plants – could be used to treat major depression.

"Studies have shown the protective effect of these polyphenols in different neurological and mental disorders," the abstract states. "The review article discusses the antidepressant potential of some important polyphenols such as amentoflavone, apigenin, chlorogenic acid [and] curcumin."

The antidepressant capabilities of curcumin have been documented in past animal models, including a 2008 study at India's Punjab University that  showed a correlation between this compound and increased serotonin and dopamine levels.

Though further research is necessary before curcumin supplements can be formally introduced into these treatments, scientists have noted that the mood-boosting potential of this compound and other polyphenols is "an exciting prospect" for future intervention methods, based on the latest report.

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