Curcumin is the major yellow pigment of turmeric, a commonly used spice, derived from the rhizome of the herb Curcuma longa Linn. In the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, turmeric has traditionally been used for the treatment of inflammation, skin wounds, and tumors. Clinical activity of curcumin is yet to be confirmed. However, in preclinical animal models, curcumin has shown chemo preventive, anti-neoplastic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Indication for use
Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Turmeric's other two curcuminoids are desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. The curcuminoids are natural phenols that are responsible for the yellow colour of turmeric.
Curcumin having a magical curing power is capable for the treatment of various diseases. Curcumin is even said to be the best for the treatment of cancer. Especially interesting is its ability to prevent the formation of carcinogen-induced intestinal premalignant lesions and malignancies in rats and in the multiple neoplasia (Min/+) mouse a genetic model of the human disease familial adenomatous polyposis.
Curcumin acts as a scavenger of oxygen species such as hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion and singlet oxygen and interferes with lipid peroxidation . Curcumin suppresses a number of key elements in cellular signal induction pathways pertinent to growth, differentiation and malignant transformations.
Curcumin is not simply an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which also have anti-inflammatory and cancer chemopreventive properties. This is so because COX is a bifunctional enzyme with cyclooxygenase and peroxidase activities. Aside from being important for PG synthesis, the peroxidase function contributes to the activation of procarcinogens. Therefore, the failure of NSAIDS to inhibit the peroxidase function of COX potentially limits their effectiveness as anticancer agents. Curcumin, in contrast, down-regulates levels of COX-2 and thereby decreases both the cyclooxygenase and peroxidase activities of the enzyme.