Turmeric as Effective as Prozac, With no Side-Effects


A randomized, controlled study by the Department of Pharmacology of Government Medical College in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India found that in a study of 60 patients with Major Depressive Disorder,  curcumin (turmeric) was as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in improving scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, but without side effects.

Abstract →

Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, Patel T, Tiwari D, Panchal B, Goel A, Tripathi CB. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research. Online July 6, 2013

Of further interest:
Study Finds Turmeric Is As Effective As Prozac For Treating Depression (Collective Evolution)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Thank you for posting.

    I’m a big-time user of Turmeric. It helps with inflammation.

    According to many holistic practitioners, reducing inflammation is the key to treating symptoms of depression or other “mental” illness.

    Over 1,100 research articles on nutrition for depression:


    Use the search engine on this site to search for studies on other “mental” disorders.


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  2. Hi Duane,

    I am glad Tumeric works for you but as an FYI, when I took a very small dose of curcumin, I developed GI bleeding. Not sure how common my experience is but it seems that many people who have been on psych meds are highly sensitive to supplements that supposedly are harmless.

    I also take issue with the claim that reducing inflammation is the key to treating symptoms of depression. I know psychiatry has grabbed on to that mantra and it seems that holistic practitioners always pick up on what psychiatry does although the main difference obviously is they replace psych meds with supplements. I guess I am asking where the scientific proof is that this occurs?

    Maybe this is too simplistic but if I am depressed about something, of course my body is going to look like it is inflamed vs. when I am not. It just seems like this is another version of the bogus chemical imbalance theory.

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    • AA,

      Listen to your body, and trust what it tells you.

      If a person wants to learn more about herbs, this is a link to the Commission E Monographs (Germany’s FDA on herbs). I have a copy, which I use as a PDR of sorts:


      Re: “Bogus chemical imbalance theory”

      On several occasions on this site, I’ve given my position on this subject, (at the risk of being tarred and feathered). It goes like this:

      Nobody can either prove or disprove a chemical imbalance.
      I end to think there may be some “imbalance” going on for some people, however, I think it can be overcome and a person can fully heal.

      In other words, I’m against the idea that there is a lifelong, incurable illness that presents as a chemical imbalance in the brain.

      To clarify, hormonal imbalances are chemical imbalances that have a profound effect on mood. So can nutritional deficiencies, thyroid conditions, absorption and digestive disorders, sleep disorders…

      Stress and trauma affect the body, bringing it temporarily out of homeostasis. I have said that I think it may be silly to think that prolonged stress or severe trauma cannot cause devastation to the body. In fact, there is research that shows that these things can cause inflammation – in the intestines, and some would argue, the brain as well.

      I’m not troubled by those findings, because I thinks these can be addressed without psychiatry, without mind-altering drugs, ECT, involuntary lock downs or loss of freedom.

      I’m not against a “chemical imbalance” theory. I’m against psychiatry as we know it. As a first line of treatment, without fully informed consent and often by force.

      I’m pro-wellness, pro-recovery, pro-freedom.

      Duane Sherry

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      • AA,

        And at the risk of *really* being tarred and feathered…

        I was a former member of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), several years ago, before it changed names to the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP).

        I remember receiving a newsletter from the organization that addressed this issue. The article made mention of there being no proof of a “chemical imbalance”, yet no proof of the lack of one either. The author suggested caution when dismissing such imbalance as a myth.

        I like the term Dr. Joanna Moncrieff uses, ‘The Myth of the Chemical Cure’…. IMO, this is the myth, in the chemical *cure*.

        The myth of better living through mind-altering drugs… Drugs that have been shown to cause injury to the brain and body.


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        • I think there are two pieces of evidence that suggest that serotonin imbalance is not true.

          1 levels of serotonin metabolites in spinal fluid were measured in depressed and non-depressed people. There was a natural variation in both samples but no overall difference between the two groups.

          2 there is a drug that lowers serotonin in the brain. It does not cause depression. Some people find it anti-depressent.

          These tend to disproove the serotonin imbalance theory.

          I konw of no other theory.

          If you ask people who are depressed about thier lives and what was going on prior to them becoming depressed often they tell you something which is about a great setback or betrayal by someone they trusted. Although this isn’t always true it is so often that it tends to make bio explanations a bit redundant in my mind

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          • Thank you for this input.
            It is very strange that those who have light, mild and severe depression take the same drug.

            We could infer that those who have major depression would lack more serotonin than those who are not.

            Serotonin is responsible for numerous things like the sense of temperature and so on…

            As I said at the other comment there are four neurotransmitters that are known among millions of others that are not known.

            What SSRIs are doing, and there are numerous experts explaining in books, articles, blogs, site… is causing a lot of changes in the body and mind of people.

            There is a group at Yahoo that are discussing PSSD. Those who have quitted a SSRI and could never regain their sexual lives.

            One of the most appalling things I did read there is that they claim they have their sexial fantasies “erased”.

            That is why SSRIs were considered to “treat” sexual offenders.

            What about that?

            I’m very sorry but with all the evidences believing in the “chemical imbalance” – what expression to name a theory – is out of the planet for me.

            But this is me.

            I respect those who believe it but I’m convinced after reading experts and the testimonies of patients that it should not even be an hypothesis. But it is a “theory”. Well, the scientific methodology is a joke.

            Peer-reviewed… 🙂

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    • Sounds like you are just another person scared to lose your oh so needed Psych drug that gets you high. If you read scientific studies on Tumeric it has positive gastrointestinal effects. If you have GI problems with it then you very likely have the same issues with a pharm product like Prozac.

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  3. Duane,

    It sounds like we agree more than we disagree. Let me clarify my point.

    When I called an alternative health provider for assistance and said to the assistant that I was having trouble getting off of Doxepin, immediately she assumed I had a “chemical imbalance” problem. In other words, her reasoning was similar to a psychiatrist who falsely assumes if you can’t get off of a psych med, that is proof you need it due to having a chemical imbalance.

    I do agree that the drugs can cause chemical imbalances and your body can be deficient in nutrients. But that is a totally different ballgame.

    I think the problem is the boundaries get blurred at times which confuses the situation.

    Nah, you’re not going to be tarred and feathered. And anyone who does will have to get by me first 🙂

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  4. If the theory it about the serotonin it means nothing for the “chemical imbalance” theory is not true.
    Comparing anything to Prozac is good for nothing since Prozac, as all SSRIs antidepressants, reuptakes serotonin on the presynaptic gap and it makes a lot of harm. 5% of this serotonin remains in the brain while 95% travels around the body.
    This is nonsense.
    Can anybody give me the scientific evidence that depression is due to a “chemical imbalance”?
    “Chemical imbalance” is a very vague expression but if it is real it is not understandable how a test to measure each patient is not available.

    They blame serotonin but also prescribe drugs that deals with dopamine and the other two neurotransmitters they know.
    There are millions of neurotransmitters that are not known. I believe in chemical imbalance: this is what happens to the brain after being exposed to medicines such as antidepressants SSRIs and other drugs. It creates a disaster in the the complex chemistry of the brain.
    Too little is known about the brain and they behave as if they knew a lot. Oh please!

    This article talks about the Hamilton scale but they don’t say anything about the curcumin.
    What have they really found about curcumin?
    That it is safe and efficacious as Prozac.

    “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”

    Without suicidal ideation? They are clearly saying here that it is NOT Prozac that causes the suicidal ideation. It is the disease.

    Point to… Prozac.

    Same old, same old.

    English Parliament 2005:

    5. Problems with Seroxat and other SSRIs

    Prozac and Seroxat are the best-known examples of SSRI and related antidepressants, but others are widely used. The introduction of SSRIs led to a threefold increase in antidepressant prescriptions between 1990 and 2000. Prescriptions for antidepressants now match those of the benzodiazepine tranquillisers at their peak, 25 years ago.

    Almost from the outset, there was concern about two main problems with SSRIs. First, there was suspicion (initially centred on Prozac) that these drugs could induce suicidal and violent behaviour – infrequently, but independently of the suicidal thoughts that are linked to depression itself. There was also concern (centred on Seroxat*) about a risk of dependence; some users. p.85

    The influence of pharmaceutical industry

    review done by the English Parliament

    *Paxil in US and Aropax in Australia.

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  5. A few thoughts:

    We are what we think.
    The thoughts we allow to enter our mind; those we decide to reflect on and keep for a while; those we choose to let go, chase off.

    Could it be that we are also what we eat (and not eat)to a large extent? Can a person really eat junk food all day and expect to have mental clarity, good emotional health.

    What about sleep, exercise?

    Are we just “cerebral” beings?
    Talk therapy cures any emotional ill?

    Food and mood:



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    • And the power of Mind and Body: to even look at a picture or hear mention of a food that one likes can produce salivating or nausea if one doesn’t like.

      I just checked my email: The Slow Cooker Chronicle eNewsletter

      BAM. Instant memory – I think back to the slow cooker I left behind when I took my kids and ran. I *loved* that thing. I mean, REALLY loved it. It was a beautiful piece of cookware. I suppose that’s why I subscribe to the newsletter? Oh, sigh… then I drift into feeling lowly, because I don’t have a family to cook for anymore. And it isn’t always easy to cook for one.

      I’m eating Bush’s baked beans today. I might eat Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, too. I’m trying REAL HARD to consume the water that I know I need to. And still struggling to make sense of the strange aversion I have to it.

      I thought a thought that I judged as deeply interesting. I happen to like space aliens, a LOT. I like a lot of things. I figured, dehydration and oxygen depletion – does that have a trajectory? Is it true, when some people say, that “aliens” are … what becomes of human beings?


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  6. Great post!


    I keep reading about more and more great benefits of turmeric making it seem like an amazing wonder spice. In the above article, turmeric is shown to prevent type 2 diabetes 100%, which seems in keeping with the type of inflammation and illness it can prevent.

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  7. Kermit,

    Obviously, great idea for you to post information about this wonder herb that’s been getting so much good press lately. I also appreciate the wide variety of great articles you’ve been posting lately in general causing much thought and animated discussions.

    Posted on: Wednesday, July 10th 2013 at 9:30 am
    Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder

    Reasons Why Turmeric Is The World’s Most Important Herb

    There is a medicinal spice so timelessly interwoven with the origins of human culture and metabolism, so thoroughly supported by modern scientific inquiry, as to be unparalleled in its proven value to human health and well-being.

    Indeed, turmeric turns the entire drug-based medical model on its head. Instead of causing far more side effects than therapeutic ones, as is the case for most patented pharmaceutical medications, turmeric possesses hundreds of potential side benefits, having been empirically demonstrated to positively modulate over 160 different physiological pathways in the mammalian body.

    While no food or herb is right for everyone, and everything has the potential for unintended, adverse side effects, turmeric is truly unique in its exceptionally high margin of safety vis-à-vis the drugs it has been compared with, e.g. hydrocortisone, ibuprofen, chemotherapy agents. Furthermore, nothing within the modern-day pharmaceutical armamentarium comes even remotely close to turmeric’s 6,000 year track record of safe use in Ayurvedic medicine.[1]

    Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability. Truth be told, the FDA’s “gold standard” for proving the value of a prospective medicinal substance betrays the age old aphorism: “he who owns the gold makes the rules,” and unless an investor is willing to risk losing the 800+ million dollars that must be spent upfront, the FDA-required multi-phased double-blind, randomized clinical trials will not occur. For additional details on this rather seedy arrangement read our article on the topic: Why The Law Forbids The Medicinal Use of Natural Substances.

    Here at GreenMedInfo.com, we have reviewed over 5,000 study abstracts from the National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database known as MEDLINE and have discovered over 600 potential health benefits of turmeric, and/or its primary polyphenol known as curcumin. These can be viewed on our turmeric research page which is dedicated to disseminating the research on the topic to a larger audience.

    Some of the most amazing demonstrated properties include:

    Destroying Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
    Destroying Cancer Stem Cells (arguably, the root of all cancer)
    Protecting Against Radiation-Induced Damage
    Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Inflammation
    Protecting Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
    Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease Associated Pathologies
    Again, what is so amazing is not that turmeric may have value in dozens of health conditions simultaneously, or that it may improve conditions that are completely resistant to conventional treatment, but that there are over six hundred additional health conditions it may also be valuable in preventing and/or treating. Consider also the fact that turmeric grows freely on the Earth, and you will understand why its very existence threatens billions of dollars in pharmaceutical industry revenue.

    Learn more about this research in the video below (keeping in mind that it is several years old and needing some updating), and please spread the information to others who may benefit from learning more on the topic

    [1] The Genus Curcuma (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants – Industrial Profiles); CRC; March 2007
    Sayer JiSayer Ji is an author, researcher, lecturer, and advisory board member of the National Health Federation.

    He founded Greenmedinfo.com in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is widely recognized as the most widely referenced health resource of its kind.

    Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

    Recommended Related Articles
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    You can use this link to access a video about this great herb and access to PubMed and other great health resources:


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  8. This is an off topic response but it will help people understand my caution regarding supplements.

    Thanks to feeling that being on Remeron contributed to a hearing loss and developing tinnitus from being Wellbutrin XL that suspect is permanent, I joined a Yahoo Groups list for ototoxic drugs that is run by Neil Bauman, PhD. Even though he is not an MD, in my opinion, he knows alot more about the ototoxic properties of meds and supplements than most MDs and pharmacists.

    Anyway, I visited the list online after having been away for while. I was stunned to see one of his posts implicating manganese as causing hearing loss and some balance issues. Unfortunately, he didn’t state the level which I will ask him about.

    But even if it is a higher than normal amount, since many alternative professionals prescribed supplements in excess of the standard amount to alleviate symptoms, this would greatly concern me and make me wonder about other “harmless” items.
    Sorry if my skepticism upsets people but I would rather people know all sides of an issue vs. getting blindsided with a mysterious condition that may be due to something they took.

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  9. After reading this article I discussed taking curcumin with my psychiatrist (Who is supporting me in coming off meds and is knowledgable about supplements.) he encouraged me to try taking 1000mg of curcumin saying the anti inflammatory effects are well known and its a very safe supplement that he takes himself. I have been taking 1000mg of curcumin for 6 weeks now and have noticed a significant difference in my mood and in my fibromyalgia related general achiness with no side effects I think are related. Definitely recommend giving this a try! I am using Jarrow Forumula Curcumin 95 and taking two 500mg capsules a day

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