How can this Indian Spice be considered a Nootropic?

Turmeric is one of the most studied herbs in Chinese, Unani, and ayurvedic medicinal practices. It is a potent analgesic used to treat pain and inflammation. Turmeric has many other health benefits, such as treating high cholesterol levels, hay fever symptoms, allergies, and reducing the risk of heart diseases. Another interesting use of turmeric is that it contains some remarkable nootropics properties and improves brain functioning.


Turmeric is a perennial shrub native to southern Asia. It is a member of the plant family Zingiberaceae, and in Chinese, it is called Jiang Huang, which literally means “yellow ginger.” The primary active ingredients in turmeric are a group of chemical compounds named curcuminoids, which include curcumin, desmethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The best-studied ingredient is curcumin, the principal component of turmeric and is bright yellow in color. It is widely used as a condiment, food color, herbal supplement, and cosmetic purposes. Turmeric also contains essential volatile oils such as turmerone and zingiberene.

Mechanism of action

Turmeric acts in the nervous cell system on a molecular level to enhance neurogenesis. Curcumin in it enhances the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factors. Therefore, it increases the levels of brain hormones, e.g., serotonin and dopamine, and works as a powerful antioxidant that protects your brain from infections and chronic inflammation.

Turmeric is also used to treat digestive disorders, skin problems, cancer treatment, diabetes neuropathy, and obesity. It also gives protection from DNA damage, hepatotoxicity, chest, and abdominal pain.

Benefits of Turmeric for the brain

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): Research indicates that the compound curcumin boosts the process of neurogenesis. New neuron production in the brain is essential for increasing memory, learning, and mood. Low levels of this factor can lead to dullness, depression, schizophrenia, and brain fog.

Neurotransmitters: Turmeric also boosts hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good. These hormones are essential for good mood, active cognition, focus, and increased libido. Turmeric works almost like MAOI’s and SSRI’s anti-depressants used to treat depression. It can sometimes augment the effect of antidepressants like Prozac.

Neuroprotection: The curcumin is a potent antioxidant and helps protect your brain from chronic inflammations and related infections. Chronic inflammation in the brain further leads to depression and memory loss. Curcumin also reduces the risk of plaque formation in the brain associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Turmeric as an anti-depressant

A study was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of using turmeric for the treatment of depression. The results showed that the best response (77.8%) was with the batch of patients treated with a combination of turmeric and Prozac. The Prozac only batch of people showed a 64% improvement in symptoms, and the turmeric only batch came in at 62.5%.

The researchers concluded that turmeric could be an effective and safe treatment for patients suffering from severe depression.

Turmeric for Stress

Turmeric has long been used in traditional ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat stress-related disorders. The antidepressant effects of turmeric are already proven in human studies. So the researchers indicate that may be curcumin can also alleviate stress caused by HPA dysfunction. No strong scientific evidence is available to prove its’ mechanism of action, and further studies are required to confirm this.


Turmeric is a fat-soluble ingredient, so you should consume it with a high-quality fat to get maximum absorption. You can use cold-pressed and organic coconut or extra virgin organic olive oil.

 Side effects

Turmeric is a natural herb and considered safe when taken at moderate doses. Taking large amounts of turmeric several times a day can cause stomachache, nausea, and ulcers. If a person has gallstones or obstruction in bile passage, then he should avoid turmeric supplements. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not take turmeric supplements at all.

Turmeric supplementation must be stopped 2 weeks before any surgery, because turmeric can act as an anti-coagulant. Turmeric can also enhance the effects of anticoagulant medications.


Turmeric boosts brain health and function in several ways. It enhances neuroplasticity and the production of BDNF. It is a growth hormone responsible for the creation of new neurons in your brain. Higher levels of BDNF can boost brain functions such as learning, memory, and productivity and can reduce risks of brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

If you use turmeric or its active ingredient curcumin, it will help boost your memory and mind sharpness and elevate your mood, especially if you are in depression.

Turmeric boosts dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. These are the “happy hormones” of your brain. Turmeric and its active ingredients have been studied and used effectively because of its nootropics properties for centuries.

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