Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And I thought I was happy after eating at Delhi Palace because the food was so good!

Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking that is gaining attention for its health properties. Curcumin, the ingredient in turmeric that provides its yellow color, is thought to be a very powerful antioxidant and anticancer agent.

In Alzheimer's patients, not only can it prevent the accumulation of destructive beta-amyloid proteins, but it is thought to even break up already existing plaques (when I saw this, it made me wonder if this is why the oldest man in the world always seems to be living in some small Indian village.)

Now it's looking like curcumin may also have antidepressant properties. When tested on rats, it had activities mimicking that found in three different categories of antidepressants--monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Specific medications it was compared to included fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Effexor), and bupropion (Wellbutrin).

When rats were already on medication, curcumin seemed to enhance the activity of the medication. Which has me thinking that psychiatrists should be handing out coupons to the closest Indian restaurant along with their medication scripts.

It appears that curcumin absorption is better in the presence of piperidine, a component of black pepper. Curry powder, readily available in most grocery stores, is a combination of coriander, cumin, black pepper, white pepper, turmeric and chillies). Not a bad item to keep stocked in your mental health cooking arsenal.

If you like to cook, Indian food is fun and easy. To get you started, here's a link to some curry recipes. Be sure you cook with olive or canola oil to get the best brain bang for your buck.

Kulkarni SK, Bhutani MK, Bishnoi M. Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008 Dec;201(3):435-42. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

Yang, F; Lim GP; Begum AN; Ubeda OJ; Simmons MR; Ambegaokar SS; Chen PP; Kayed R; Glabe CG; Frautschy SA; Cole GM (February 2005).
Curcumin inhibits formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, binds plaques, and reduces amyloid in vivo. Journal of Biological Chemistry (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) 280 (7): 5892–901.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for another wonderfully-written piece!

I use turmeric - have for many years....and, it helps with swelling....inflamation of all kinds....I type a lot, and before regularly using turmeric, found my wrists swelling...not since....

The best two sources on herbs that I've found are -

The American Nutraceutical Assn

Commission E Monographs - from Germany....The Germans have put a lot of time into herb study....

You can find the (translated) version at the American Botanical Council....It serves as a bit of an herb bible for yours truly....

This is the link -

Great job (again)!


hormonewoman said...

Hi Duane!

Curcumin has a ton of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. You have personally discovered just a few!

I always say it's best to "eat ethnic", as long as it's not Americanized ethnic.

I'm glad you enjoyed the piece, nice to see you here again! I do follow the discussion list but I get behind in keeping up on commenting. I'm more of a lurker and I appreciate the work you do getting everyone to contribute and support.