Spice plays role in depression research

It has been a staple of traditional Indian cooking for centuries but could a humble ground-up root help you stave off depression?

A WA researcher is leading one of the world's first studies looking at the effect of turmeric on patients with depression.

The eight-week study will examine whether taking curcumin, the substance which gives turmeric its distinctive yellow colour, has any effect on levels of depression.

Murdoch University clinical psychologist Adrian Lopresti, who is leading the research, said people suffering depression were commonly found to have elevated levels of inflammation.

"There have been a few studies now which have added an anti- inflammatory to an anti-depressant for the treatment of depression and found it has a more powerful effect than on its own," he said.

But long-term use of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories could have many side effects, he said. Curcumin, which had little to no side effects, might be a viable replacement.

Mr Lopresti believes the findings could change the way depression is seen from a medical point of view by shifting the focus on to inflammation rather than treating a chemical imbalance in the brain.

The study will also investigate what role lifestyle factors play in the development and treatment of depression.

Mr Lopresti expected the results to be released this year.

The West Australian

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