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Curcumin, an Active Constiuent of the Ancient Medicinal Herb Curcuma longa L.: Some Uses and the Establishment and Biological Basis of Medical Efficacy

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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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Keywords: Curcumin; anti-inflammatory; antidepressant; antioxidant; neurprotection

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2013

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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