The curcuma antioxidants: pharmacological effects and prospects for future clinical use. A review

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2002 Feb;34(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4943(01)00194-7.


In agreement with the predictions of the oxygen-stress theory of aging and age-related degenerative diseases, diet supplementation with a number of phenolic or thiolic antioxidants has been able to increase the life span of laboratory animals, protect against senescent immune decline and preserve the respiratory function of aged mitochondria. In addition to the above, more recent data reviewed here suggest that the polyphenolic compound curcumin and related non-toxic antioxidants from the rhizome of the spice plant Curcuma longa have a favorable effect on experimental mouse tumorigenesis as well as on inflammatory processes such as psoriasis and ethanol-caused hepatic injury. Our own research has focused on the effects of diet supplementation with an antioxidant-rich hydroalcoholic extract of the curcuma rhizome on key risk factors of atherogenesis and related cardiovascular disease. Our reviewed data show that, in human healthy subjects, the daily intake of 200 mg of the above extract results in a decrease in total blood lipid peroxides as well as in HDL and LDL-lipid peroxidation. This anti-atherogenic effect was accompanied by a curcuma antioxidant-induced normalization of the plasma levels of fibrinogen and of the apo B/apo A ratio, that may also decrease the cardiovascular risk. The reviewed literature indicates that curcumin and related plant co-antioxidants are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Further, since they potentiate the anti-atherogenic effect of alpha-tocopherol, more extensive clinical testing of their probable usefulness in cardiovascular risk reduction seems justified.