Nootropics

The Nootropic Benefits of Curcumin

The Nootropic Benefits of Curcumin

Curcumin is a substance that has got a lot of attention over the past few years. It has been the subject of numerous scientific studies and the results are very promising.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the nootropic benefits of curcumin. We’ll explore the science and see what people around the world are saying about it. But first, let’s see what curcumin is.

What Is Curcumin?

Curcumin is a bright-yellow substance found mostly in the plant turmeric. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because turmeric is a popular herb used in cooking. It is a flowering plant in the ginger family. Turmeric is widely used in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine.

Curcumin was named in 1815, the same year it was first extracted from the turmeric plant. However, it’s use goes much further back than that. Curcumin was used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

In recent years, curcumin has been the subject of many scientific studies. It is sold as a dietary supplement and has become popular in the nootropics community. We’ll get to the nootropic benefits of curcumin shortly.

Curcumin belongs to a class of substances called curcuminoids. These are polyphenols, which are micronutrients found in plants. Many polyphenols are powerful antioxidants and can be found in a variety of foods including berries, green tea, olives, olive oil, and some fruits.

curcumin powder

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin have been well established. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation in several parts of the body including the brain. While more human research is needed to fully understand this, several animal studies have shown that curcumin reduces neuroinflammation and has a neuroprotective effect.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what curcumin is, let’s explore its potential as a nootropic.

Many people who use curcumin as a supplement have reported a variety of nootropic benefits. Let’s break it down by benefit and see what the science has to say about it.

Improved Mood

Many curcumin users have reported that it improves their mood. And there is quite a bit of science to support these claims. Two meta-analyses have been published over the past five years that found curcumin to improve mood in depressed patients. A meta-analysis is a type of scientific study that uses complex mathematical tools to review the results of previously published research. Let’s take a look at these meta-analyses now.

Turmeric, the plant curcumin comes from.

The first of these two meta-analyses was published in 2017. This paper reviewed six clinical trials (totaling 377 patients diagnosed with depression) who were given either curcumin or a placebo. The researchers concluded that curcumin is both safe and effective at reducing the symptoms of depression.

The second meta-analysis was published in 2020. This review looked at 9 different studies, totaling 531 participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) or depression secondary to a medical condition. Like the 2017 meta-analysis, this one found that curcumin significant reduced the symptoms of depression. The researchers also noted that curcumin was well-tolerated by all the participants who received it.

As you can see, there is plenty of evidence to support the use of curcumin to improve mood in depressed patients. However, more research is needed to determine if curcumin can reliably improve mood in healthy people. But there are plenty of anecdotal reports claiming it does just that. And the research that has been done is promising like the next study we’ll look at.

Improved Memory

The Nootropic Benefits of Curcumin 1

Most of the human research done on curcumin has focused on people with various illnesses. However, a 2015 study looked at the effect curcumin supplementation had on healthy volunteers. The researchers ran a number of tests on participants given either curcumin or a placebo. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study yielded some interesting results.

One hour after being given curcumin, the participants showed significantly improved performance on working memory tasks and sustained attention compared to the participants who were given a placebo. Not only did this study show that curcumin has an acute nootropic effect, the researchers also found it to have benefits when taken over time.

After receiving curcumin daily, the participants showed a significant improvement in mood, working memory, alertness, and contentedness. While more research is needed to fully understand all the nootropic effects of curcumin, this study is definitely encouraging.

Decreased Anxiety

Stress & Anxiety

Another potential nootropic benefit of curcumin is decreased anxiety. Some users report that it makes them feel less anxious and stressed. There is a bit of research to support these claims. In the two meta-analyses mentioned earlier, the researchers noted an anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect as well as an antidepressant effect in depressed patients.

While more human studies are needed to fully understand curcumin’s effect on anxiety, animal research has been encouraging. A 2006 study looked at the effect curcumin had on chronically stressed rats. The results showed that curcumin was able to reverse their stress and the physiological markers that go along with it.

A more recent study published in 2018 also looked at the effect curcumin had on rats. The results showed that it had a significant effect on biochemical and behavioral symptoms associated with anxiety. Studies like these are encouraging and support the claims made my nootropic users.

Overall Cognition

Between curcumin’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it’s easy to see how it can be effective at improving overall cognition. Additional to these properties, curcumin has also been shown to affect the levels of various neurotransmitters in the brain.

More and more nootropic products are including curcumin in their ingredient lists. When taken by itself or as part of a nootropic stack, curcumin seems to have a general nootropic effect for a lot of users. And in all the studies mentioned in this post, it was well-tolerated by the participants who received curcumin.

Curcumin Dosage

Though curcumin can be taken by itself, the body does not absorb it very well. To increase absorption, curcumin is often taken with black pepper extract (piperine). That’s why you’ll often see black pepper extract in nootropic products that contain curcumin.

Turmeric and curcumin capsules

A common curcumin dosage is 500 milligrams (mg) three times a day for a total of 1,500 mg. To maximize its absorption and effectiveness, each dose should be accompanied by 10-20 mg of black pepper extract.

Pure Nootropics offers a great product that combines curcumin and black pepper fruit extract (BioPerine) into one capsule. Each capsule contains the perfect dosage: 500 mg of curcumin and 10 mg of black pepper extract. If you would rather take curcumin by itself, you can find it in both capsule and powder form at Nootropics Depot.

While curcumin (with or without black pepper extract) can be taken on an empty stomach, it’s probably best to take it with food. Since curcumin is fat-soluble, taking it with a small meal may increase its absorption.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, curcumin has a number of potential nootropic benefits. It can improve mood and memory, decrease anxiety, and boost overall cognitive performance. And curcumin is a potent antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body and brain.

Have you used curcumin? If you have, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. And if you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for the Nootropics Zone mailing list below.

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References

1Prasad, S., & Aggarwal, B. (2011). Turmeric, the golden spice: from traditional medicine to modern medicine. In: Benzie, I., & Wachtel-Galor, S. eds. Herbal medicine: biomolecular and clinical aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.

2Vogel, H., & Pelletier, J. (1815). Curcumin – biological and medicinal properties. Journal de Pharmacie, 1:289.

3Wilken, R., Veena, M., Wang, M., et al. (2011). Curcumin: a review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Molecular Cancer, 10:12.

4Perez-Jimenez, J., Neveu, V., Vos, F., et al. (2010). Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(S3):S112-20.

5Pulido-Moran, M., Moreno-Fernandez, J., Ramirez-Tortosa, C., et al. (2016). Curcumin and health. Molecules, 21(3):264

6Ng, Q., Koh, S., Chan, H., et al. (2017). Clinical use of curcumin in depression: a meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 18(6):503-8.

7Fusar-Poli, L., Vozza, L., Gabbiadini, A., et al. (2020). Curcumin for depression: a meta-analysis. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 60(15):2643-53.

8Cox, K., Pipingas, A., & Scholey, A. (2015). Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(5):642-51.

9Xu, Y., Baoshan, K., Tie, L., et al. (2006). Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Brain Research, 1122(1):56-64.

10Lee, B., & Lee, H. (2018). Systemic administration of curcumin affect anxiety-related behaviors in a rat model of posttraumatic stress disorder via activation of serotonergic systems. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

11Kulkarni, S., & Dhir, A. (2010). An overview of curcumin in neurological disorders. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 72(2):149-54.

11Curcumin. (2021). Examine.com. Retrieved May 26, 2023 from https://examine.com/supplements/curcumin/

12Jager, R., Lowery, R., Calvanese, A., et al. (2014). Comparative absorption of curcumin formulations. Nutrition Journal, 13, 11.

Curcumin belongs to a class of substances called curcuminoids. These are polyphenols, which are micronutrients found in plants. Many polyphenols are powerful antioxidants and can be found in a variety of foods including berries, green tea, olives, olive oil, and some fruits.

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