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Can Turmeric Help In Dealing With Depression?

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Turmeric is the wonder spice which has endless health benefits. It is one of the most common ingredients in the Indian kitchens and can be used in almost all dishes and recipes. Apart from helping in dealing with cough and cold, turmeric can help in dealing with depression as well. Most of the health benefits of turmeric can be credited to the compound curcumin, which has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory bodies. A recent progression of turmeric is its effect on people dealing with depression. Turmeric can help in dealing with depression and even major depressive disorder (MDD).
How turmeric helps in dealing with depression
Antioxidants in curcumin protect the body from damage caused by free radicals in the body. These free radicals are also capable of causing inflammation in the body. They help in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been found to be linked with depression. Inflammation might exacerbate depression and vice versa. Antioxidants in curcumin can reduce symptoms of depression.
We ask nutritionist Pooja Malhotra is turmeric can help in treating depression, and she says, “The bio active ingredient of turmeric is curcumin which has many useful health properties. It also has an anti-inflammatory action which may have an anti-depressant action. It has been suggested by a few studies, yet its role in therapeutic treatment of depression is not fully established and needs to be investigated. The bottom line is that turmeric has innumerous health benefits.”
When used with other herbs such as saffron, turmeric can be more effective in reducing depression symptoms. Furthermore, curcumin can increase effectiveness of anti-depressants, thus helping in dealing with depression in a better way.
While turmeric cannot be claimed to be a standalone treatment for depression, it can help in improving the condition when combined with other treatments. Turmeric should not be used in place of prescribed anti-depressants and medications for depression. Furthermore, change in symptoms cannot be experienced right away. It might take a while before turmeric shows its affects in reducing depression symptoms.
Including turmeric in your diet can be quite simple. As mentioned above, turmeric can be added to almost all dishes. Most Indian dishes in fact, have turmeric as an essential ingredient. Apart from imparting interesting colour to the dish, it also adds exceptional flavour to it.
However, curcumin content in turmeric cooking powder is quite less. You might have to look for high-curcumin alternative of regular turmeric powder. Amount of curcumin in turmeric products is different in different products. Even 1 tsp of high-curcumin turmeric can be helpful for dealing with depression.
Experts also suggest intake of turmeric supplements available in health stores or online shopping stores. Avoid those supplements which do not mention their curcumin content. Nonetheless, it has to be kept in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t approve of supplements. Whenever you’re buying supplements, make sure that they are only from a trusted manufacturer.
Combine it with black pepper
The effects of turmeric come to be the best when combined with black pepper. Piperine compound in black pepper enhances absorption of curcumin. There have been numerous studies which talk about benefits of black pepper and turmeric together. Curcumin is more effective when combined with piperine. You can add black pepper to the meals in which you add turmeric.
There can be some side effects
Therapeutic use of spices like turmeric and black pepper can have certain side effects like vomiting, nausea or an upset stomach. These side effects can be avoided by using the spices in smaller dosages initially. In case you are on anti-depressants, do talk to your doctor about dosages in which you should include turmeric and black pepper in your diet. Do take care of the dosage in case you’re pregnant. People with gallstones, bile duct dysfunction or low blood pressure should also keep a check on the dosage of turmeric for treating depression.
In case of any unusual or severe symptoms, do visit your doctor. This is especially for those who are recovering from depression or are replacing medication with herbs.
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)


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Health

Beware of the silent killer

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By Dr Sudhir Koganti

One may wonder what all this fuss about high blood pressure is. Hypertension causes many cardiovascular diseases that include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and dementia, thus putting a huge burden on healthcare globally due to morbidity, mortality and associated costs. Last but not least, the public need to be aware of the correct treatment for high blood pressure.
Every year, the World Hypertension Day is celebrated on the 17th of May to increase awareness about this silent killer among general public. International Society of Hypertension along with World Hypertension League has designated the month of May as “May Measurement Month.”
The aim of this initiative is to screen as many people as possible that are over the age of 18 years for suspected hypertension. This strategy would greatly enhance in identifying silent or undiagnosed hypertensives so that they can be targeted with guideline directed lifestyle, dietary advice and treatment.
Awareness on the lower threshold of blood pressure reading required to label an individual as hypertensive is also required. American Heart Association guidelines released in 2017 clearly stipulate that a blood pressure reading of over 130/80 is now considered as stage 1 hypertension. However, the job of a cardiologist doesn’t stop with diagnosis but actually starts there. Once someone is labelled as hypertensive, it needs to be established if it is true or an entity called white coat hypertension.
Furthermore, investigations may have to be carried out to see if hypertension is secondary to a cause. Once diagnosed, a decision needs to be taken if lifestyle modification can be adopted or treatment needs to be initiated early.
Lifestyle modifications include six key steps and they are:
• Get expert advice from your doctor to help you understand your results;
• Lower salt/sodium to prevent excess fluid in the blood, which strains blood vessels;
• Eat more fruits and veggies – particularly potassium-rich ones – to balance out sodium in the blood;
• Exercise – it makes the heart stronger, putting less strain on blood vessels;
• Quit smoking – constituents of tobacco smoke damages blood vessel linings; and
• Monitor your blood pressure at home
As per studies and data, thousands of people are on wrong treatment for hypertension with a class of drugs called Betablockers (Atenolol, Metoprolol etc) being prescribed as first line or second line agent.
Betablockers have been phased out as first line or second line drugs to treat hypertension a while ago, unless there is concomitant coronary artery disease or heart failure. In fact, the same holds for other concomitant conditions too such as kidney disease, stroke etc.
Essentially, the key message is one prescription does not fit all and it need to be tailored to the individual in a dedicated specialist clinic. People need to actively undergo blood pressure screening of themselves.
They need to nudge their relatives and friends in the month of May and seek expert advice on how to manage and monitor this silent killer over the long run to lead an active and healthy life. (Writer is Consultant Cardiologist, Citizens Hospitals, Nallagandla, Serilingampally)
Dr Sudhir Koganti

 
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Health

Jawless fish may hold key to effective brain cancer treatment

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A chemical found in jawless parasitic fish can be used to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to brain tumours, as well as lead to more effective treatments for trauma and stroke, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, found that molecules from the immune system of the parasitic sea lamprey may also be combined with a wide array of other therapies, offering hope to treat disorders like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or even traumatic injuries.
“We believe it could be applied as a platform technology across multiple conditions,” said Eric Shusta, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
When injected into the bloodstream, many drugs cannot reach targets in the brain as the blood-brain barrier prevents large molecules from leaving the blood vessels in the brain, researchers said.
In conditions such as brain cancer, stroke, trauma and multiple sclerosis, however, the barrier becomes leaky in and around the disease locations, researchers said.
The study found that leaky barrier offers a unique point of entry, allowing molecules to access the brain and deliver drugs precisely on target.
“Molecules like this normally couldn’t ferry cargo into the brain, but anywhere there’s a blood-brain barrier disruption, they can deliver drugs right to the site of pathology,” Shusta said in a statement.
Researchers said that the technology takes advantage of the fact that many diseases disrupt body’s natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier, which lines the blood vessels of the central nervous system, protecting the brain from circulating toxins or pathogens.
They also linked the molecules to a chemotherapy called doxorubicin. The treatment prolonged survival in mouse models of glioblastoma, an incurable cancer.
“This could be a way to hold therapies in place that don’t otherwise accumulate well in the brain so they can be more effective,” said Ben Umlauf from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“There are several disease processes that disrupt the blood-brain barrier and we could conceive of delivering a variety of different therapies with these molecules,” said John Kuo from the University of Texas in the US.

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Life expectancy linked to a person’s walking speed

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People who walk slowly have a lower life expectancy than those who walk fast, a recent study has claimed. According to the study published in the Journal of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, those with a habitually fast walking pace have a long life expectancy across all levels of weight status – from underweight to morbidly obese.
Underweight individuals with a slow walking pace had the lowest life expectancy (an average of 64.8 years for men, 72.4 years for women). The same pattern of results was found for waist circumference measurements.
Professor Tom Yates, the lead author of the study, said, “Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on the life expectancy of individuals. In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI) and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”
Dr Francesco Zaccardi, co-author of the study, said, “Studies published so far have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk, for example, a 20 per cent relative increase of risk of death for every 5 kilograms per metres squared increase, compared to a reference value of a BMI of 25 kilograms per metres squared (the threshold BMI between normal weight and overweight).”
Last year, Professor Yates and his team showed that middle-aged people who reported that they are slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.

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