Some individuals use turmeric supplements in the treatment of depression and dementia. Like prescription antidepressants, studies indicate that curcumin can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. A six-week study of sixty individuals with depression found curcumin was comparable to fluoxetine in reducing depression symptoms.
Depression patients typically have low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Scientists believe that this may contribute to a reduction in the size of the hippocampus in these patients. Curcumin improves levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Experts believe that this could reverse some of the impacts depression has on the brain. Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier. Research indicates it can help clear the amyloid plaques in the brain that are heavily involved in Alzheimer's disease.