Curcumin, an Active Constiuent of the Ancient Medicinal Herb Curcuma longa L.: Some Uses and the Establishment and Biological Basis of Medical Efficacy
The root extract, curcumin (diferuloylmethane), is a constituent of the ancient herbal medicine Jiawei-Xiaoyaosan that has been used for dyspepsia, stress, and mood disorders. Curcumin engenders a diverse profile of biological actions that result in changes in oxidative stress, inflammation, and cell-death pathways. Combined with its historical use in medical practice and its safety profile, curcumin has been studied for its potential therapeutic applications in cancer, aging, endocrine, immunological, gastrointestinal, and cardiac diseases. In addition, data in animal models and in humans have also begun to be collected in stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. A compelling new body of literature is also mounting to support the efficacy of curcumin in stress and mood disorders. Current understanding of the biological basis for antidepressant-relevant biochemical and behavioral changes shows convergence with some mechanisms known for standard antidepressants. In addition, the mechanisms of the antidepressant-like pharmacology of curcumin also appear to overlap with those of other disease states. Thus, ancient wisdom might be built into this interesting and newly-appreciated natural molecule. Although curcumin is a primary ingredient in anti-aging pills, cosmetic creams, eye treatments, diet products, etc, a key hurdle to the development of curcumin for disease treatment and prevention is overcoming its low oral bioavailability. Although multiple approaches to this problem are being examined, a solution to the bioavailability issue will be needed to ensure appropriate tissue exposures of curcumin in clinical investigation. Progress in this regard is underway.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 June 2013
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