Curcuma Longa: The Untapped Medicinal Herb

Curcuma longa (Turmeric) is a powdered dried rhizome native to India and known for centuries. It belongs to the family Zingiberaceae and ranks as one of the most useful herbal medicinal plants.

Curcuma longa is very rich in polyphenols; the principle constituents being the three curcuminoids: curcumin (diferuloylmethane; the primary constituent and the one responsible for its vibrant yellow colour), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin.

Polyphenols play an important role in the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases. They are majorly derived from human diet. Many of these polyphenol-rich natural resources have been traditionally used as medicines for the prevention of diseases, as well as maintenance of youth and longevity. Turmeric ranks on top of the list for the natural remedies that are being investigated for various pharmacological actions and its medicinal use in humans.  It has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties and is a natural antiseptic. Curcumin has demonstrated to play an important role in the inflammatory pathway; it exerts the anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the inflammatory mediators. The anti-inflammatory properties have many clinical applications such as in wound healing, reducing post-surgical inflammation, reducing oxidative stress etc. Research has shown that curcumin is capable of interacting with numerous molecular targets involved in inflammation and has shown potential as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer.

The polyphenol-rich natural remedies possess strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. They have an ability to hit the molecular targets and they play important roles in regulating the immune system.

In spite of the abundant evidence at the molecular level and extensive studies at the preclinical and clinical levels, its therapeutic outcome remains a challenge owing to its low solubility and poor bioavailability that influences cellular uptake and influences therapeutic action.

Continuous efforts of developing a suitable formulation that can overcome the limitations of curcumin bioavailability seem to gather momentum and new drug delivery systems that by-passes  the <<FIRST PASS EFFECT>  and delivers bioactive curcumin in blood stream for therapeutic effects is now the reality.

 

References:

  • J Herbmed Pharmacol. 2014; 3(1): 5-8.
  • J. Biol. – Plant Biol.,2010; 55 (2): 65-70
  • Altern Med Rev 2009;14(2):141-153

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