Turmeric, Inflammation and Depression (plus a recipe)

rena williams wellness

Depression is the result of chronic inflammation. It’s creating an inflammatory response in our body that's affecting our nervous system. Just like inflammation can cause us to feel pain in our joints, muscles or digestive system, it can also affect our brain and ultimately influence our mood.


What Causes Inflammation?
In an earlier post, I spoke about how the stories we make up largely influence our mood and the way we feel. Our thoughts alone can create an inflammatory response in the body. Combine these stories with other pro-inflammatory factors such as our environment, physical or emotional trauma, poor diet or eating habits, lack of exercise, weak or compromised gut health, lack of or poor sleep and nutrient deficiencies and inflammation gets exacerbated.


This leaves your body out of balance and you feel unwell and unlike your regular self.


Turmeric's Positive Influence on Depression
For countless years, turmeric has been used in both Ayurveda and tradition Chinese medicine. This pungent spice boasts incredible anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Studies show that people with depression have higher levels of inflammation and free radical damage. Turmeric, specifically the curcumin in turmeric, helps counteract this.

There have been recent studies in the Western world measuring the effects of using turmeric in depression with positive results. One of the reasons for its effectiveness is that curcumin helps modulate the release of serotonin and dopamine. It also inhibits the release of certain enzymes that can break down these neurotransmitters. 


Paying attention to subtle ways to support your mental health through food and nourishment can make a difference and influence how you feel and show up in your day. Whether it be in soups, stews, curries or teas, turmeric can be easy to incorporate in your day to day.  I’m sharing an example with you with this simple recipe below. 


Keep in mind when working with turmeric that black pepper, specifically the piperine compound in black pepper, is the key supporting ingredient. It dramatically increases the absorbability of turmeric.


Turmeric Spice Latte
serves 1

1 cup hot water or nut milk

1 Tbsp Spiced Pumpkin Puree (recipe below)

honey (optional) 


How to:

  • Mix nut milk and pumpkin puree together, adjusting to taste with honey
  • Enjoy


Spiced Pumpkin Puree
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp coconut oil or grassfed butter

1/2 Tbsp turmeric, ground (or 1 to 2 1-inch knobs of fresh turmeric, finely chopped) 

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves, ground

1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground

1/2 tsp allspice, ground

generous grinding of black pepper

pinch of salt


How to:

  • Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender. Mix on high for about 1-2 minutes until smooth consistency. 
  • Alternatively, you can make this in a small saucepan on the stove. In this case, I’d use ground turmeric. 
  • Store cooled puree in an airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for about 5 days.

Now I'd love to hear from you. Share with me in the comments below, one of your favourite ways to enjoy turmeric.


Kulkarni, S.K.,  Dhir, A. An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2010 Mar-Apr

Lopresti, AL, Maes, M, Maker, GL, et al. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014



A Superstar Spice For Good Health

Superstar Spice For Good Health

So what is it, you ask?


Turmeric! I love turmeric.


Not because it can stain my fingers a bright orange for days or (even better) my clothes if I'm too lazy to throw on an apron. I love it because it's kinda like a superstar. This may sound far fetched but it's really true.


You may or may not have heard of turmeric before. Either way, it's okay. Turmeric has been around for close to ever. One of turmeric's more common uses is as a culinary spice in Indian cuisine. It's what gives that super pigmented yellow colour to dishes like curries and dals.


What makes turmeric a superstar spice for good health is its amazing ability to reduce inflammation, along with its incredible antioxidant properties.


We all have some level of inflammation. The amount each of us has varies from person to person. Some of the biggest contributors to inflammation are our lifestyle, how we manage stress and our diet. Each of these affects (either positively or negatively) our inflammation levels. 


Inflammation affects every single cell in our body. When levels become to high for our body to manage, we see changes in our health and challenges start to show up. It can be something digestive, cardiovascular, circulatory, joint related, and the list goes on. Inflammation increases even when something acute like a cold or flu comes along.


The less inflamed our body is the better it is for our health. Inflammation is the breeding ground for every chronic illness and disease.


So when we can keep our levels at a minimum by reducing inflammation, we see benefits. Less aches and pains. Getting out of bed isn't so burdensome. Going about our daily routine is easier as our body is able to focus on functioning well instead of managing mass amounts of inflammation.


So what is turmeric anyways? Can something with a funny name be that good for you?


It's the most anti-inflammatory spice that's available in your diet. You can buy it fresh or as a powder. It's most often easier to find it in powder form. In addition to it being an anti-inflammatory power house, it also has high amounts of antioxidants.  


Antioxidants are crucial to good health.  They help prevent damage to our cells from the stresses of everyday life that you and I are exposed to. Damage to our cells affects our DNA. This creates an opportunity for disease to seep in.


The active component of turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory celeb like status. 


This recipe I'm sharing today is a turmeric tonic or elixir of sorts. When I put this recipe together I kept two things in mind. One, I wanted it to taste good. Great taste is always my main goal. Two, I wanted it to be health building. I'd be so happy if you'd give this a try. As it's an elixir, every ingredient in this recipe serves a purpose in promoting good health.


For instance, I've included black pepper, as it's like a partner in crime to curcumin. Black pepper has a component called piperine. Piperine improves the bioavailability and absorption of curcumin. In some studies by as much as 2000%. Awesome, right?! Be sure to keep this little nugget of info in mind when you're experimenting with turmeric in your savoury dishes. If you plan on using turmeric, include black pepper. 


Creamy Turmeric Tonic

Serves 2


1 1/2 cups nut milk (I used cashew milk)

1/2 Tbsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp raw honey

1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed (or juice of approx. 1/4 of a lemon)

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

1/8 tsp black pepper (a really good pinch)

1-inch knob of ginger, skin removed

3 ice cubes


How to:

  • Place everything in a high powered blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Enjoy! Will keep for up to two days in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Option: If this is something that's normally part of your diet, feel free to blend in 1 tsp. of citrus flavoured Omega-3 fish oil. This adds to the incredible anti-inflammatory benefits without changing the flavour. 


I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Now, what's one of your favourite superstar spices? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.



Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in Animals and Human Volunteers. Planta Medica. Shoba, G, Joy D, Joseph, T et al. 1998 May; 64 (4) 353-356