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Curcumin ingredient beats placebo in treating depression

By Hank Schultz

18-Aug-2014

A recent study on a curcumin formulation branded as BCM-95 has shown the botanical to be more effective than a placebo in treating symptoms of major depression.

 “This is our second study on major depressive disorder,” said Cheryl Myers, head of scientific affairs and education for Europharma, which markets supplements featuring the BCM-95 Curcumin ingredient that was used in the study. 

“The earlier study showed that it warked as well as Prozac in treating major depressive disorder without the major side effects,” Myers told NutraIngredients-USA.

Bioavailability question

One of the major issues with curcumin is the poor bioavailability of the ingredient.  ‘Native’ curcumin, a designation some suppliers have taken to using to refer to the minimally processed ingredient, is for the most part insoluble, and is taken up into the blood stream in only single digit percentages in terms of overall mass ingested.  Ingredient developers try to deal with this in various ways, with liposomal delivery systems, colloidal suspensions and the like.

In the case of BCM-95, which is found in Europharma’s Curamin and Curamed finished products, the soluablity question is dealt via a patented process that increases the bioavailability of plain curcumin up to 10 times, the company has said. This is achieved by micronizing curcumin powder and then blending it with essential oils from turmeric, it added.

Developing science

All of these approaches have led to border war on bioavailability, with claims and counter claims for the effectiveness of competing curcumin ingredients.  Europharma founder Terry Lemerond tried to stay above the fray when talking with NutraIngredients-USA in March, and wanted to focus more on the developing science in the field.

“We have never singled anyone out as being a non-quality product,” Lemerond told us. “We have the most clinically studied product in the curcumin space with 15 clinical studies.

“We drove the curcumin market,” he added. “Nobody has given it the attention that we have.”

The medicinal value of curcumin and turmeric is tremendous, he said, with over 7,000 studies in the last several years.

Study details

In the most recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers recruited 56 individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder.  The researchers administered clinically validated scales of self-reported inventories for depression assessment, and all were currently suffering symptoms at the time of the trial. After being divided into two groups, they were treated with BCM-95 Curcumin (500 mg twice daily) or placebo for eight weeks. Each week participants were asked to rate the severity and frequency of specific symptoms present over the past seven days for eight weeks total.

By week four, continuing through week eight, BCM-95 Curcumin was significantly more effective than placebo in lowering self-reported depressive and anxiety symptoms. When examining the effects of curcumin in people with atypical depression, which is generally more difficult to treat, BCM-95 Curcumin had even greater antidepressant and anti-anxiety efficacy compared to placebo.

“In every score save one they were well into the realm of clinical significance, and in the other one there was a positive trend,” Myers said.

The researchers said the finding with atpyical depression was of particular interest, as this form of major depressive disorder can be particularly hard to treat via the normally prescribed pharmaceuticals. This form of depression is also associated with higher levels of inflammation in the brain.

“There is now increasing support for the antidepressant effects of curcumin, with a previous study1 demonstrating BCM-95 curcumin to be as effective as a pharmaceutical antidepressant for the treatment of depression,” said lead author Dr Adrian Lopresti. “Further larger clinical trials are required to determine the optimal treatment dosage, length of treatment and long-term efficacy of curcumin.”

Source: Journal of Affective Disorders

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.06.001

Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study"

Authors: Lopresti, Adrian L. et al.

Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study

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