And turmeric root has long been prized in South and East Asian medicine.
The term “curcumin” refers to the complex of pigments that give turmeric (and curry powder) its characteristic color.
More accurately, curcumin is just one of a trio of three closely related polyphenol compounds called “curcuminoids”.
Curcumin exerts potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and has been the subject of hundreds of test tube, animal, and human studies.
Together, these studies indicate that curcumin’s synergistic polyphenol trio supports immune-system and brain health in uniquely powerful ways.
However, curcumin is not well-absorbed when extracted from turmeric ... unless it is accompanied by turmeric volatile oils.
Research shows that turmeric’s volatile oils enhance the benefits of curcumin and provide their own ... yet most curcumin supplements rarely include any turmeric volatile oils.
Accordingly, when we decided to offer curcumin supplements, we picked a patented extract called BCM-95®, which includes the full spectrum of turmeric volatile oils.
Clinical studies show that BCM-95 curcumin is absorbed six to seven times better than the curcumin in conventional 95%-curcumin dietary supplements (Antony B et al. 2012).
BCM-95® has been tested in 13 published studies, including eight human clinical trials, with uniformly positive results for safety and superior absorption.
Our supplement delivers BCM-95 curcumin in wild salmon oil, to further enhance absorption and provide the complementary health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids.
Clinical trial shows BCM-95® curcumin rivals Prozac®
Recently, a joint U.S.-India scientific team conducted a clinical trial that should spark keen interest in curcumin as a mental health aid (Sanmukhani J et al. 2013).
The trial was designed to compare the mood effects of BCM-95 curcumin with those of the prescription anti-depressant fluoxetine (generic form of Prozac®)
Judging by the results, this highly absorbable curcumin extract rivals fluoxetine (Prozac®), without causing any of that drug’s adverse effects.
The team was led by Ajay Goel, Ph.D., Director of Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, who’s co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed studies.
Dr. Goel also performs peer-reviewing activities for more than 70 scientific journals, and serves on various grant funding committees of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The trial involved 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), who were divided into three groups of 20, each assigned to a different daily regimen:
- Fluoxetine - 20mg
- BCM-95 curcumin - 1,000mg (500 mg twice daily)
- BCM-95 curcumin - 1,000mg (500 mg twice daily), plus 20 mg fluoxetine
The participants’ mood health was assessed before and after the trial, using a standard test called the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D17 scale).
The Hamilton scale is used to rate the severity of depression by evaluating mood, feelings of guilt, suicide ideation, insomnia, agitation or motor retardation, anxiety, weight loss, and other symptoms.
The proportion of responders as measured by the HAM-D17 scale was higher in the combination group (77.8%) than in the fluoxetine-only group (64.7%) or the curcumin (62.5%) groups.
These differences were not statistically significant from one another, so the average improvement in HAM-D17 scores was comparable in all three groups. (The curcumin was well tolerated by all the patients.)
Therefore, after six weeks of treatment, BCM-95 curcumin worked as well as prescription fluoxetine (Prozac) in terms of changes in the HAM-D17 score ... without the adverse effects associated with the drug.
As the authors wrote, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD [major depressive disorder] without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”
Why would curcumin alleviate depression?
Dr. Goel explained how curcumin might ease major depression (Goel A 2013):
“People with depression have higher levels of inflammation in the brain. Also, people with depression have lower levels of neurogenesis in the brain, meaning they make fewer new brain cells than people with no history of depression. Curcumin is both a potent anti-inflammatory agent and a powerful stimulator for neurogenesis.”
In rats, curcumin also inhibits the damaging, excessive release of glutamate in nerve terminals of the brain's pre-frontal cortex, and raises levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Accordingly, as he noted, “A recent animal study that compared BCM-95 curcumin to both fluoxetine and imipramine (an older class of antidepressant medications) showed excellent results.” (Goel A 2013)
Dr. Goel had two comments on the trial outcomes: “Depression is a major global public health issue. The pharmaceutical interventions can be quite costly, and have many potentially serious adverse effects. There are also many people whose disease does not fully respond to treatment.”
“The BCM-95 curcumin used in this study shows efficacy on major depression on its own, at the same level as the drug [fluoxetine/Prozac], and even better results when combined with the drug. This may be meaningful for the health of millions of people.” (Goel A 2013)
Getting curcumin, effectively
In addition to taking supplemental BCM-95, you can get ample amounts of curcumin by cooking dishes with fresh turmeric root … which contains the volatile oils that enhance its absorption.
You can further enhance absorption of the curcumin in turmeric by cooking the fresh, sliced root with vegetable or animal fats.
Curcumin absorption is enhanced by piperine – a compound in black pepper – but much less effectively.
And supplements that deliver curcumin in fatty envelopes called liposomes can enhance absorption to an extent comparable to BCM-95, but are much costlier per gram of curcumin.
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- Goel A. Depression Study Published on BCM-95 Curcumin; Natural product equaled effectiveness of prescription drug in clinical trial. July 11, 2013. Accessed at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/depression-study-published-on-bcm-95-curcumin-215101301.html
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