A study on rats that were given curcumin, a compound derived from the Indian spice known as turmeric indicates that it could potentially help to block bad memories, according to researchers from the Hunter College and the City University of New York.

The rats were given curcumin-spiked food and a plate of regular food before they were exposed to certain tests involving sound and shocks to the feet. The rats’ brains were then removed and analysed. Scientists discovered that the rats who ate the curcumin spice found it more difficult to recall the fear memory that was associated with the sound as well as the shock to the feet.

The research appears in the scientific journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a paper published by Glenn E. Schafe but more scientific studies are required before it can be certain that turmeric actually helps with removing bad memories. The Hunter College study indicates that turmeric can help to suppress inflammation and reduce the magnitude of injuries.

Dr Robert Price, a neurologist from the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo explained, “Turmeric has a lot of other health benefits that have been studied. It has been used in Eastern medicine as an anti-inflammatory for hundreds if not thousands of years.”

How can anti-inflammatories help with your mental health?

The study doesn’t refer to curcumin helping mental health specifically but it does indicate that rats fed an enriched curcumin diet have impaired encoding of fear memories. It also shows that rats with pre-existing fears can lose their memory when it’s recalled or when eating a curcumin-enriched diet.

Potentially this study shows that curcumin could help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and any disabling psychological disorders that provoke fearful memories.