In the traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, several spices and herbs are thought to possess medicinal properties. Among the spices, turmeric rhizomes (Curcuma longa. Linn.) are used as flavoring and coloring agents in the Indian diet everyday. In this research, we studied the effect of turmeric and its active principle, curcumin, on diabetes mellitus in a rat model. Alloxan was used to induce diabetes. Administration of turmeric or curcumin to diabetic rats reduced the blood sugar, Hb and glycosylated hemoglobin levels significantly. Turmeric and curcumin supplementation also reduced the oxidative stress encountered by the diabetic rats. This was demonstrated by the lower levels of TBARS (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances), which may have been due to the decreased influx of glucose into the polyol pathway leading to an increased NADPH/NADP ratio and elevated activity of the potent antioxdiant enzyme GPx. Moreover, the activity of SDH (sorbitol dehydrogenase), which catalyzes the conversion of sorbitol to fructose, was lowered significantly on treatment with turmeric or curcumin. These results also appeared to reveal that curcumin was more effective in attenuating diabetes mellitus related changes than turmeric.