A Review on Curcuma longa


Sri Vasavi Reddy A*, J. Suresh, Hemant K.S. Yadav and Apurva Singh

Dep. of Pharmacognosy, JSS College of Pharmacy, JSS University, SS Nagara, Mysore-570015, Karnataka.

Corresponding author: srivasavireddy@gmail.com



Curcuma longa L., (Zingiberaceae) grows up to 3-5 ft tall and has dull yellow flowers. The rhizome is an underground stem that is thick, oblong, ovate, pyriform and fleshy ringed with the bases of old leaves. The plant has oblong, pointed leaves with funnel-shaped yellow flowers. It contains several phytoconstituents belonging to category of alkaloids, glycosides, triterpenoids, sterols, include three curcuminoids: curcumin (diferuloylmethane; the primary constituent and the one responsible for its vibrant yellow color), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin, as well as volatile oils (tumerone, atlantone, and zingiberone), sugars, proteins, and resins. It is popular in indigenous system of medicine like ayurveda, siddha, unani and homeopathy for the treatment of diseases and human ailments. A wide range of biological and pharmacological activities of curcumin has been investigated and is used for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, hepatoprotective, dissolve gallstones, anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal effects, tonic for the digestive system; to dispel worms, strengthen the body, antifertility, menstrual irregularity anti diabetic, antivenom, hypolipidemic, nephroprotective, anticoagulant,  anorexia, cough, rheumatism, sinusitis and anti HIV properties. Because of curcumin’s rapid plasma clearance and conjugation, its therapeutic usefulness has been somewhat limited, leading researchers to investigate the benefits of complexing curcumin with other substances to increase systemic bioavailability. Numerous in-progress clinical trials should provide an even deeper understanding of the mechanisms and therapeutic potential of curcumin.The present review is therefore, an effort to give a detailed survey of the literature on its properties.


KEYWORDS: Curcuma longa, Turmeric, Curcumin, Anthelmintic activity, Antitumour effect, Osteoarthritis.



Curcuma longa L., (fig.-1) which belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, is a perennial herb that measures up to 1 m high with a short stem, distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world, being widely cultivated in Asiatic countries, mainly in India and China. In India is popularly known as “Haldi”, in Malaysia, Indonesia and India has been well studied due to its economic importance. Its rhizomes are oblong, ovate, pyriform, and often short-branched and they are a household remedy in Nepal1. It is a sterile plant and does not produce any seeds. The rhizome is an underground stem that is thick and fleshy ringed with the bases of old leaves and is used for medicinal and food preparation. Rhizomes are boiled and then dried and ground to make the distinctive bright yellow spice, turmeric. The plant has oblong, pointed leaves with funnel-shaped yellow flowers2.


As a powder, called turmeric, it has been in continuous use for its flavouring, as a spice in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food preparations and it also has digestive properties3. Current traditional Indian medicine claims the use of its powder against biliary disorders, anorexia, coryza, cough, diabetic wounds, hepatic disorder, rheumatism and sinusitis4. The colouring principle of turmeric was isolated in the 19th century and was named curcumin, which was extracted from the rhizomes of C. longa L., with yellow colour and is the major component of this plant, being responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects. In old Hindu medicine, is extensively used for the treatment of sprains and swellings caused by injury5. Some economically important Curcuma species6 is mentioned in table-1.

Turmeric was described as C. longa by Linnaeus and its taxonomic position is as follows:

Kingdom       Plantae

Class              Liliopsida

Subclass        Commelinids

Order            Zingiberales

Family           Zingiberaceae

Subfamily     Zingiberoideae

Tribe             Zingibereae

Genus           Curcuma

Species         Curcuma longa


Fig.1   Curcuma longa


Vernacular names:

Hindi                 : haldi

Telugu               : haridra

Malayalam         : manjal

Kannada            : arisina

Tamil                : manjal


Table no.1   Economically important Curcuma species6.



Curcuma longa L. syn C. domestica Val

Spice, medicine, dye, local delicacies,                                                                       insect repellent, aroma therapy, dye

C. amada Roxb., C. mangga Val. and Zijp

Spice, medicine, pickles and salads

C. zedoaria Roxb

Folk medicine, arrow root industry

C. ochrorrhiza Val. and Van Zijp

Malayan traditional medicine

C. pierreana Gagnep

Vietnamese traditional medicine

C. aromatica Salsb

Medicine, toiletry articles, insect repellent

C. kwangsiensis S. G. Lec and C. F. Liang syn

Chinese traditional medicine

C. caesia Roxb.

Spice and medicine

C. comosa Roxb.

Traditional medicine of Thailand

C. angustifolia Roxb., C. zedoaria Roxb. C. caulina, C. angustifolia Roxb., C. zedoaria Roxb. C. caulina F. Grah., C. psuedomontana F. Grah. C. montana Roxb., C. rubescens Roxb., C. leucorrhiza, C. xanthorrhiza Roxb.,

C. decipiens Dalz., C. malabarica Vel. et al., C. raktakanta Mangaly and Sabu, C. haritha Mangaly and Sabu, C. aeruginosa Roxb.

Arrow root industry

C. alismatifolia Gagnep, C. thorelii, C. roscoeana Wall.

Ornamental (cut flower)


Chemical Constituents: Turmeric contains protein (6.3%), fat (5.1%), minerals (3.5%), carbohydrates (69.4%) and moisture (13.1%). Phenolic diketone, curcumin (diferuloylmethane) (34%) is responsible for the yellow colour, and comprises curcumin I (94%), curcumin II (6%) and curcumin III (0.3%). Other phenolic diketones demethoxycurcumin and bis-demethoxycurcumin have also been isolated from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa. Presence of tumerones (a and b), curdione, curzerenone, mono- and di-demethoxycurcumin have been reported in the rhizomes. The essential oil (5.8%) obtained by steam distillation of rhizomes has a-phellandrene (1%), sabinene (0.6%), cineol (1%), borneol (0.5%), zingiberene (25%) and sesquiterpines (53%)7.


The essential oils of leaves of C. longa have been analyzed by GLC (Perkina Elmer auto-system fitted with capillary column carbowax 20 m of 50 m length flux ionization detector) and was reported to contain α-pinene, β-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-phellandrene, 1,8-cineole, p-cymene, C8-aldehyde, linalool, caryophyllene, geraniol and methyl heptanone8.


One novel sesquiterpene was isolated with new skeleton, (6S)-2-methyl-6-(4-hydroxyphenyl-3-methyl)-2-hepten-4-one, two new bisabolane sesquiterpenes, (6S)-2-methyl-6-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-hepten-4-one, (6S)-2-methyl-6-(4-formylphenyl)-2-hepten-4-one, and two calebin derivatives, 4''-(4'''-hydroxyphenyl-3'''-methoxy)-2''-oxo-3''-butenyl-3-(4'-hydroxyphenyl)-propenoate and 4''-(4'''-hydroxyphenyl)-2''-oxo-3''-butenyl-3-(4'-hydroxyphenyl-3'-methoxy)-propenoate along with five known bisabolane sesquiterpenes from C. longa. The structures have been elucidated by spectral methods9.



The major constituent, curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is the principal curcuminoid and the most important fraction of C.longa L. and its chemical structure, was determined by Roughley and Whiting10. It melts at 176-177°C and forms red-brown salts with alkalis. Curcumin is soluble in ethanol, alkalis, ketone, acetic acid and chloroform; and is insoluble in water. In the molecule of curcumin, the main chain is aliphatic, unsaturated and the aryl group can be substituted or not.


The other two curcuminoids are desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. The curcuminoids are polyphenols and are responsible for the yellow colour of turmeric. Curcumin can exist in at least two tautomeric forms, keto and enol. The enol form is more energetically stable in the solid phase and in solution. Curcumin can be used for boron quantification in the curcumin method. It reacts with boric acid forming a red colored compound, known as rosocyanine. As a food additive, its E number is E100. Curcumin can bind with heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, thereby reducing the toxicity of these heavy metals. This property of curcumin explains its protective action to the brain. Curcumin acts as an inhibitor for cyclooxygenase, 5-lipoxygenase and glutathione S-transferase. Curcumin, its main active constituent, is as powerful and antioxidant as vitamins C, E and Beta-Carotene, making turmeric usage a consumer choice for cancer prevention, liver protection and premature aging, bursitis, arthritis and back pain. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory action is likely due to a combination of three different properties. First, turmeric lowers the production of inflammation-inducing histamine. Secondly, it increases and prolongs the action of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory adrenal hormone, cortisol, and finally, turmeric improves circulation, thereby flushing toxins out of small joints where cellular wastes and inflammatory compounds are frequently trapped. Research has also confirmed the digestive benefits of turmeric. Turmeric acts as a cholagogue, stimulating bile production, thus, increasing the bodies’ ability to digest fats, improving digestion and eliminating toxins from the liver11.





Structure-activity relationships:

It is known that curcumin, which can be extracted from C. longa L., belongs to the class of curcuminoids and is very similar to diarylheptanoids. In the literature we can find some authors that associate the anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin and its derivatives to the presence of hydroxyl and phenol groups in the molecule, being essential for the inhibition of prostaglandins (PG synthetase) and leucotrienes (LT) 12, 13. On the other hand, some authors suggested that the anti-inflammatory action is associated to the existence of the dicarbonylic system, which has the conjugated double bonds (dienes), being responsible for this activity14, 15. This system seems to be responsible not only for anti-inflammatory power, but also to antiparasitic activity16, 17. The presence of diene ketone system provides a lipophylicity to the compounds, and thus probably better skin penetration. Other factors can be mentioned here, like the presence of double bonds, which seems to increase the potency of some substances.



Experiments involving rats, administrating curcumin orally were made by Wahlstrom and Blennow5. Pharmacokinetic studies in animals have demonstrated that 40-85 percent of an oral dose of curcumin passes through the gastrointestinal tract unchanged, with most of the absorbed flavonoid being metabolized in the intestinal mucosa and liver. Due to its low rate of absorption, curcumin is often formulated with bromelain for increased absorption and enhanced anti-inflammatory effect11. Curcumin (up to 5 μg/ml) added to microsomes suspensions disappeared within 30 min and it was similar in hepatocyte suspensions. It was capable of disappearing from the blood after intravenous or after addition to the liver perfusion system. It seems that curcumin is rapidly metabolized in circulation5.


Pharmacological properties:

Anthelmintic activity: The hydroalcoholic extracts of Curcuma longa, Zingiber officinale and combination of Curcuma longa and Zingiber officinale rhizome extracts (1:1) were evaluated for their anthelmintic activity using Pheretima posthuma model (Indian earthworm). Extracts obtained from both rhizomes not only paralyzed but also killed the earthworms. Among the two drug extracts, Curcuma longa showed maximum vermifuge activity at the concentration of 50mg/ml. Combination of hydroalcoholic rhizome extracts of Curcuma longa and Zingiber officinale also showed a significant anthelmintic activity. On the basis of the observations, it was concluded that both Curcuma longa and Zingiber officinale rhizomes extracts bearing a potential anthelmintic property18.


Anticancer activity: The anticancer activity of turmeric was evaluated prophylactically and therapeutically (as pre-induction treatment and post-induction treatment) against the MNU induced mammary tumours. The anticancer activity was assessed using latency period, tumour incidence, tumour burden, tumour volume, tumour growth inhibition, histology and haematological parameters. Oral administration of turmeric showed anticancer activity in a dose dependent manner and it was more in pre-induction treatment than in-post induction treatment groups. Topical application of turmeric was found to be more effective in pre-induction treatment and topical treatment was more effective when compared to oral treatment. Chemo-preventive role of turmeric was more compared effective than therapeutic role of turmeric19.


Plasma cell dyscrasias/ paraproteinemia: Plasma cell dyscrasias, most commonly associated with paraproteinemia, are a diverse group of diseases. Monoclonal gammopathy of undefined significance (MGUS) can precede multiple myeloma, a progressive neoplastic disease. Given that the size of the M-protein is a risk factor for disease progression, early intervention with the aim of reducing the paraprotein load would provide an innovative therapeutic tool. Preliminary results from pilot study showed a drop between 5% and 30% serum paraprotein in patients taking curcumin compared with patients on placebo. Curcumin is a diferuloylmethane present in extracts of the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant. As a natural product, this has exciting potential in the treatment of plasma cell dyscrasias20.


Ameliorative Effect: Curcuma longa and Curcumin were evaluated for ameioliorative effects on aflatoxin B1 induced serological abd biochemical changes in kidney of mice. Administration of Curcuma longa and Curcumin lowered the level of lipid peroxidation and enhanced the antioxidant status of animal. It acts as effective compounds playing an important role in reduction of renotoxicity and hematotoxicity induced by aflatoxin B1 due to its antioxidative property. Curcumin, the major pigment in Curcuminoids of turmeric, is known to protect against AFB1 by inhibiting the biotransformation of AFB1 to aflatoxicol in kidney. Curcumin by scavenging or neutralizing free radicals, interacting with oxidative cascade, quenching oxygen, inhibiting oxidative enzymes like cytochrome P450, and by chelating metal ions like Fe, inhibits peroxidation of membrane lipids and maintains cell membrane integrity and their function. Curcuma longa and Curcumin exert its protective effect against aflatoxin B1-induced toxicity by modulating the extent of lipid peroxidation and augmenting antioxidant defence system21.


Antibacterial activity: Xanthorrhizol, was isolated from the ethanol extract of Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb., is a sesquiterpene compound with a molecular weight of 218. The antibacterial activity of xanthorrhizol was investigated against foodborne pathogens. The activity was measured in terms of the MIC and the MBC. MICs and MBCs of xanthorrhizol against Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus were 8, 16, 8, 8, 16, 8 microg/ml and 16, 32, 16, 16, 16, 16 microg/ml, respectively. The bactericidal study, as determined by the viable cell count method, revealed that xanthorrhizol treatment at 4 x MIC reduced viable cells by at least 6 to 8 log for all six foodborne pathogens in 4 h. Xanthorrhizol maintained its antibacterial activity after thermal treatments (121 degrees C, 15 min) under various pH ranges (pH 3.0, 7.0, and 11.0). These result suggested that xanthorrhizol, conferring strong antibacterial activity with thermal and pH stability can be effectively used as a natural preservative to prevent the growth of foodborne pathogens22.


Antitumour effect: A compound was isolated from the rhizomes of Curcuma zedoaria, characterized as isocurcumenol by the MS and IR spectra significantly inhibited the cell proliferation in human lung, leukemia, nasopharyngeal carcinoma and murine lymphoma cells. Acridine orange-Ethidium Bromide and Hoechst staining revealed the apoptosis inducing capacity of isocurcumenol. GC-MS profile of the Petroleum ether extract showed isocurcumenol, methyl sterolate, elemene, and Isolongifolene as the prominent chemical constituents. The in vivo studies suggested the non toxic nature of the compound at low doses and its antitumour effects in the ascitic tumour development comparable to the standard drug used to treat lymphoma, cyclophosphamide23.


Osteoarthritis: Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) play a key role in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA). The effects of curcumin (diferuloylmethane), were examined for a pharmacologically safe phytochemical agent with potent anti-inflammatory properties on IL-1beta and TNF-alpha signalling pathways in human articular chondrocytes maintained in vitro. The effects of curcumin were studied in cultures of human articular chondrocytes treated with IL-1beta and TNF-alpha. Expression of collagen type II, integrin beta1, cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) was monitored by western blotting. The effects of curcumin on the expression, phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of protein components of the NF-kappaB system were studied by western blotting and immunofluorescence, respectively. Treatment of chondrocytes with curcumin suppressed IL-1beta-induced NF-kappaB activation via inhibition of IkappaBalpha phosphorylation, IkappaBalpha degradation, p65 phosphorylation and p65 nuclear translocation. Curcumin inhibited the IL-1beta-induced stimulation of up-stream protein kinase B Akt. These events correlated with down-regulation of NF-kappaB targets including COX-2 and MMP-9. Similar results were obtained in chondrocytes stimulated with TNF-alpha. Curcumin also reversed the IL-1beta-induced down-regulation of collagen type II and beta1-integrin receptor expression. The results indicated that curcumin has nutritional potential as a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agent for treating OA through suppression of NF-kappaB mediated IL-1beta/TNF-alpha catabolic signalling pathways in chondrocytes24.


Acute pancreatitis: The cell viability and cytokine productions were measured in pancreatic acini. The mice were intraperitoneally injected with the stable cholecystokinin analogue, cerulein (50 μg/kg), every hour for a total of 6 h. Blood samples were obtained to determine serum amylase, lipase and cytokine levels. The pancreas was rapidly removed for morphological examination, measurement of tissue myeloperoxidase activity, as well as the level of cytokines and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). The CL treatment reduced cerulein-induced cell death and cytokine production in pancreatic acini. The administration of CL significantly ameliorated the severity of pancreatitis and pancreatitis-associated lung injury, as was shown by the reduction in pancreatic edema, neutrophil infiltration, vacuolization, necrosis, serum amylase, lipase and cytokine levels, and mRNA expression of multiple inflammatory mediators such as interleukin (IL)-1ß and -6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α. In order to identify the regulatory mechanism of CL on cerulein-induced pancreatitis, we examined the level of HO-1 in the pancreas. We found that the administration of CL induced HO-1. Our results suggest that CL plays a protective role in the development of AP and pancreatitis-associated lung injury25.


Hepatoprotective activity: The hepatoprotective activity of the ethanol extract of Curcuma longa was investigated against paracetamol induced liver damage in rats. At the dose of 600 mg/kg, paracetamol induced liver damage in rats as manifested by statistically significant increase in serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Pretreatment of rats with the ethanolic extract of Curcuma longa (100 mg/kg) prior to paracetamol dosing at 600 mg/kg statistically lowered the three serum liver enzyme activities. Moreover, treatment of rats with only the ethanolic extract of Curcuma longa (100 mg/kg) had no effects on the liver enzymes. The results suggest that ethanolic extract of Curcuma longa has potent hepatoprotective effect against paracetamol-induced liver damage in rats26.


Immunomodulatory agent: It is a potent immunomodulatory agent that can modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Curcumin can also down regulate the expression of various proinflammatory cytokines including TNF, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and chemokines, most likely through inactivation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Curcumin at low doses can also enhance antibody responses. This suggests that curcumin's reported beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer might be due in part to its ability to modulate the immune system. Together, these findings warrant further consideration of curcumin as a therapy for immune disorders27.


Anti-inflammatory Mechanisms: Curcumin is a highly pleiotropic molecule capable of interacting with numerous molecular targets involved in inflammation. Curcumin modulates the inflammatory response by down-regulating the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) enzymes; inhibits the production of the inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), interleukin (IL) -1, -2, -6, -8, and -12, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP), and migration inhibitory protein; and down-regulates mitogen-activated and Janus kinases28,29.

Ulcerative Colitis: Curcumin was shown to reduce mucosal injury in mice with experimentally-induced colitis. A dose of 50 mg/kg curcumin for 10 days prior to induction of colitis with 1,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid resulted in a significant amelioration of diarrhoea, improved colonic architecture, and significantly reduced neutrophil infiltration and lipid peroxidation in colonic tissue. Reduced levels of nitric oxide and O2 radicals and suppressed NF-κB activation in colonic mucosa, all indicators of reduced inflammation and symptom improvement, were also reported30.


Rheumatoid Arthritis: In an animal model of streptococcal cell wall-induced rheumatoid arthritis; a turmeric extract devoid of essential oils was given to Wistar female rats. Intraperitoneal injection of an extract containing 4 mg total curcuminoids/kg/day for four days prior to arthritis induction significantly inhibited joint inflammation in both the acute (75%) and chronic (68%) phases. To test efficacy of an oral preparation, a 30-fold higher dose (to allow for possible low gastrointestinal absorption) of the curcuminoid preparation, given to rats four days prior to arthritis induction, significantly reduced joint inflammation by 48 percent on the third day of administration31.


Ocular Conditions: Anterior uveitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye (including the iris) and if untreated can result in blurred vision and permanent damage. Although the exact cause of anterior uveitis is not certain, it has been known to occur with trauma to the eye, other eye diseases, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, measles, or mumps. Treatment is usually aimed at decreasing inflammation32.


Dyspepsia and Gastric Ulcer: A phase II clinical trial was conducted involving 45 subjects (24 males, 21 females, ages 16-60 years), 25 with endoscopically diagnosed peptic ulcers were given 600 mg curcumin five times daily 30-60 minutes before meals, at 4:00 pm, and at bedtime for 12 weeks. Ulcers were absent in 12 patients (48%) after four weeks, in 18 patients after eight weeks, and in 19 patients (76%) after 12 weeks. The remaining 20 patients, also given curcumin, had no detectable ulcerations at the start of the study, but were symptomatic – erosions, gastritis, and dyspepsia. Within 1-2 weeks abdominal pain and other symptoms had decreased significantly33.


Renal Graft Rejection: The effect of a combination of 480 mg curcumin and 20 mg quercetin (per capsule) was investigated on delayed graft rejection (DGR) in 43 kidney transplant patients. Subjects were randomized to low-dose (one capsule), high-dose (two capsules), or placebo (one capsule twice daily) groups for one month post-surgery. Of 39 participants who completed the study, two of 14 in the control group experienced DGR compared to zero in either treatment group. Early function (significantly decreased serum creatinine 48 hours post-transplant) was achieved in 43 percent of subjects in the control group, 71 percent of those in the low dose treatment group, and 93 percent in the high-dose group. Since the amount of quercetin in the compound was minimal, the majority of benefit is thought to be due to curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity34.


Anti venom effect: Turmerin, a protein from Turmeric, the powdered rhizome of the herb Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae) was investigated for its ability to prevent oxidative organ damage against Naja naja venom phospholipase A2 (NV-PLA2) in Male Swiss Wistar mice. Turmerin, a 14kDa protein was purified by successive gel permeation chromatography effectively neutralized the lethality of NV-PLA2 and proved to act as potent antioxidant fighting against NV-PLA2 induced free radical formation thus preventing organ damage in male Swiss Wistar mice. Ar-turmerone, isolated from C. longa, neutralizes both haemorrhagic activity of Bothrops venom and 70% lethal effect of Crotalus venom in mice. It acts as an enzymatic inhibitor of venom enzymes with proteolytic activities35.


Pest management: Turmeric is credited with interesting pesticidal properties against certain agricultural pests and with promising repellent properties against noxious mosquito species. The rhizome powder of Curcuma longa was found effective against Sitophilus granarius, Rhyzopertha dominica and against several pests of okra (namely Amrasca devastans, Tetranychus neocaledonicus, Dysdercus cingulatus, Oxycarenus hyalinipennis, Anomis flava, Spodoptera litura, and Earias vittella. Repellency of turmeric oils was monitored against the lesser grain borer (Rhyzopertha dominica) for 8 weeks36.


Cardiovascular Effects: Turmeric’s protective effects on the cardiovascular system include lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreasing susceptibility of low density lipoprotein (LDL) to lipid peroxidation, and inhibiting platelet aggregation. These effects have been noted even with low doses of turmeric. A study was done on 18 atherosclerotic rabbits given low-dose (1.6–3.2 mg/kg body weight daily) turmeric extract demonstrated decreased susceptibility of LDL to lipid peroxidation, in addition to lower plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The higher dose did not decrease lipid peroxidation of LDL, but cholesterol and triglyceride level decreases were noted, although to a lesser degree than with the lower dose. Turmeric extract’s effect on cholesterol levels may be due to decreased cholesterol uptake in the intestines and increased conversion of cholesterol to bile acids in the liver. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by C. longa constituents is thought to be via potentiation of prostacyclin synthesis and inhibition of thromboxane synthesis11.


Antifertility activity: Petroleum ether and aqueous extracts of turmeric rhizomes showed 100% antifertility effect in rats when fed orally. Implantation was completely inhibited by these extracts37. Curcumin found to inhibit 5a-reductase, which converts testosterone to 5a-dihydrotestosterone, thereby inhibiting the growth of flank organs in hamster38. Curcumin also inhibited human sperm motility and has the potential for the development of a novel intravaginal contraceptive39.


Neuroprotective effect: Curcumin is used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease as it can decrease beta-amyloid plaques, delay degradation of neurons, metal-chelation, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and decrease microglia formation and this results in the overall memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease gets improved40.


Antiageing effect: Curcumin on chronically administration can influence normal ageing-related parameters: lipid peroxidation, lipofuscin concentration and intraneuronal lipofuscin accumulation, activities of the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and Na+, K+, -adenosine triphosphatase (Na+, K+, -ATPase) in different brain regions (cerebral cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum and medulla) of 6- and 24-month-old rats. Chronic curcumin treatment of both 6 and 24 months old rats resulted in significant decreases in lipid peroxide and the lipofuscin contents in brain regions, the activities of SOD, GPx and Na+, K+, -ATPase however, showed significant increase in various brain regions41. Studies have shown that curcumin improves memory in mice and has neuroprotective effect of curcumin in vitro and in vivo42. Chronic treatment with curcumin (10, 20 and 50 mg/kg, p.o.) once daily for a period of 8 days beginning 4 days prior to 3-NP administration dose-dependently improved the 3-nitorpropionic acid (3-NP)-induced motor and cognitive impairment. Biochemical analysis revealed that curcumin administration significantly attenuated 3-NP-induced oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation estimation, reduced glutathione and nitrite activity) in the brains of rats. It also significantly restored the decreased succinate dehydrogenase activity. The results of the present study clearly indicate that curcumin by its antioxidant activity showed neuroprotection against 3-NP-induced behavioural and biochemical alteration43.



Isolation of antioxidant protein from turmeric peel waste: Antioxidant protein was isolated from turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) peel waste by successive gel permeation chromatography. The protein was stable even after heating at 600ºC for 30min and showed 84% antioxidant activity in terms of inhibition of hydroxyl radical formation. The protein when exposed to UV radiations at 345nm was stable till 20min showing 91% inhibition. Treatment of erythrocyte membranes with ferrous sulphate ascorbate as pro-oxidant inhibited the Na+K+ATPase enzyme activity44, 45.


Biotechnology of Curcuma: Tissue culture studies in Curcuma have been attempted by many workers to standardize protocols for in vitro propagation, cell and suspension culture to screen variants with useful traits and for conservation. Biotechnology research in Curcuma initiated in the late 1970s has touched upon different aspects like tissue culture protocols, in vitro conservation, microrhizome induction and in vitro pollination besides molecular biology studies (isozymes, phylogeny and DNA markers). It is evident from the literature that MS medium supplemented with BA along with other phytohormones and TDZ is the best tissue culture media for Curcuma6.


De-addiction of tobacco chewers: Patients were recruited with pre-cancerous lesions or oro-pharyngeal cancers with habits of chronic smoking or tobacco chewing for the study. Serum nicotine level was estimated at monthly interval for three months. Study arm patients were given simultaneously Curcuma longa for consecutive three months and serum nicotine level was compared with control arm. Addiction potentiality was recorded by counselor. Control arm patients had the same addiction dependency as before but amongst study arm patients (63.6%) completely gave up smoking or tobacco chewing. 19 patients (14.3%) dropped smoking less than 10 cigarettes per day and 14 patients (10.6%) tobacco chewing decreased from 10-times to less than 2-times per day46.


Diarylheptanoid Phytoestrogens: All diarylheptanoids up-regulated estrogen-responsive genes in estrogen-responsive breast cancer cells (MCF-7). In HepG2 cells transfected with estrogen receptor (ER) β or different ERα functional receptor mutants and the Vit-ERE-TATA-Luc reporter gene, all diarylheptanoids induced transcription through a ligand-dependent human ERα-ERE–driven pathway, which was abolished with ICI 182,780 (ER antagonist), whereas only D2 was active with ERβ. An ERα mutant lacking the functional AF2 (activation function 2) region was not responsive to 17β-estradiol (E2) or to any of the diarylheptanoids, whereas ERα lacking the AF1 domain exhibited wild-type–like activity. D3 markedly increased uterine weight and proliferation of the uterine epithelium in ovariectomized mice, whereas D1 and D2 were inactive. D3, like E2, up-regulated lactoferrin (Ltf) gene expression. The responses to D3 in the uterus were inhibited by ICI 182,780. In addition, D3 stimulated both classical (Aqp5) and nonclassical (Cdkn1a) ER-mediated gene regulation. The D3 diarylheptanoid is an agonist for ER both in vitro and in vivo, and its biological action is ERα selective, specifically requiring AF2 function, and involves direct binding via ER as well as ERE-independent gene regulation47.



In this review article, effort has been taken to collect and compile the details regarding Curcuma longa which will be useful to the society to venture in to a field of alternative systems of medicine.



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Received on 08.11.2011          Modified on 02.12.2011

Accepted on 13.12.2011         © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 5(2): Feb. 2012; Page 158-165