• Good advice for aches, pains & injuries

Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders


Tags: random, nutrition, mind, self-treatment, treatment

One article on PainSci cites Wu 2015: Anxiety & Chronic Pain

PainSci summary of Wu 2015: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible.

Curcumin has a larger evidence base than most other supplements.

This study of rats found that curcumin increases the synthesis of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which “is linked to the neuropathology of several cognitive disorders, including anxiety.” The increases in DHA were accompanied by decreased anxiety. One human trial concluded that “curcumin has a potential anti-anxiety effect” (Esmaily 2015). This evidence is promising but preliminary and probably not sufficient for most patients to justify the cost and hassle of supplementation. However, curcumin probably does have other benefits (most notably, see Nicol 2015).

Note that curcumin is poorly absorbed without other agents such as black pepper extract (piperine).

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Dietary deficiency of docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6 n-3; DHA) is linked to the neuropathology of several cognitive disorders, including anxiety. DHA, which is essential for brain development and protection, is primarily obtained through the diet or synthesized from dietary precursors, however the conversion efficiency is low. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), which is a principal component of the spice turmeric, complements the action of DHA in the brain, and this study was performed to determine molecular mechanisms involved. We report that curcumin enhances the synthesis of DHA from its precursor, α-linolenic acid (C18:3 n-3; ALA) and elevates levels of enzymes involved in the synthesis of DHA such as FADS2 and elongase 2 in both liver and brain tissues. Furthermore, in vivo treatment with curcumin and ALA reduced anxiety-like behavior in rodents. Taken together, these data suggest that curcumin enhances DHA synthesis, resulting in elevated brain DHA content. These findings have important implications for human health and the prevention of cognitive disease, particularly for populations eating a plant-based diet or who do not consume fish, a primary source of DHA, since DHA is essential for brain function and its deficiency is implicated in many types of neurological disorders.

related content

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: