Curcumin Comparable to Fluoxetine for Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder
By Carrie Decker, ND
Founder and Medical Director, Blessed Thistle, Madison, WI
Dr. Decker reports no financial relationships relevant to this field of study.
Synopsis:A randomized, controlled trial of curcumin, fluoxetine, or fluoxetine with curcumin for treatment of major depressive disorder finds comparable improvement in depression score in each treatment group.
Source: Sanmukhani J, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res 2013; Jul 6 [Epub ahead of print].
Curcumin, the primary active constituent of Curcuma longa, is well known for its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory actions, but also has been used traditionally for conditions including depression and anxiety in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Animal studies have shown curcumin to have an antidepressive effect by promoting neurogenesies in the hippocampus as well as acting as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. This study is the first known clinical trial of curcumin for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).
Sixty individuals diagnosed with MDD (not having other psychiatric disorders or other uncontrolled organic disease) were randomized to treatments with 20 mg of fluoxetine, 1000 mg of curcumin (500 mg twice daily), or these treatments in combination for a period of 6 weeks. There was not a placebo group. The study was observer-masked but participants were not blinded to their treatment regimen. Efficacy of treatment was measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, 17-item version (HAM-D17). Forty-five individuals completed the study, with no significant difference in each group. The mean change in HAM-D17 score was comparable in all three groups (P = 0.77) with a mean change of -14.0 in the fluoxetine group,
-12.6 in the curcumin group, and -14.8 in the combination group. A slightly lower tolerability was found in the combination treatment group, but the difference was not significant, with only mild side effects reported.