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Curcumin as an Add-On to Antidepressive Treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Pilot Clinical Study

Bergman, Joseph MD*; Miodownik, Chanoch MD; Bersudsky, Yuly MD, PhD; Sokolik, Shmuel; Lerner, Paul P.§; Kreinin, Anatoly MD, PhD*; Polakiewicz, Jacob MD*; Lerner, Vladimir MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/WNF.0b013e31828ef969
Original Articles

Objectives Depression is a widespread mental disorder in which nearly half of the affected people have recurrent symptoms. Drug combinations may produce cumulative adverse effects, especially in elderly and physically ill patients. It was demonstrated that curcumin possesses antidepressive activity in various animal models of depression, and a combination of curcumin with some antidepressants potentiates the antidepressive effect of these agents. We sought to evaluate the efficacy of curcumin as an antidepressive agent in a combination with other antidepressants in patients with major depression.

Methods Forty patients with a first episode of depression participated in a 5-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. The subjects were treated with either 500-mg/d curcumin or placebo together with antidepressants (escitalopram or venlafaxine) during August 2010 until June 2011. The outcome measures were Clinical Global Impression—Severity Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale.

Results Analysis of variance showed significant positive changes in both groups from baseline to the end of the study in all scales of measurement. These changes became significant from the first visit after 7 days of treatment. There was no difference between curcumin and placebo, which means negative results. However, the patients in the curcumin group demonstrated a trend to a more rapid relief of depressive symptoms in comparison to those in the placebo group. None of the patients complained of any adverse effect during the study.

Conclusions Although there is no definitive proof that curcumin can induce an earlier beneficial effect of antidepressive agents, it seems like an extended study is needed to prove it, using higher therapeutic doses of curcumin.

*Mental Health Center Tirat Carmel, Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, Israel; †Be’er-Sheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva, Israel; ‡Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva, Israel; and §Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University, Tsfat, Israel.

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Vladimir Lerner, MD, PhD, Be’er, Sheva Mental Health Center, PO Box 4600, Be’er-Sheva 84170, Israel; E-mail address:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.