Curcumin: getting back to the roots

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Nov;1056:206-17. doi: 10.1196/annals.1352.010.


The use of turmeric, derived from the root of the plant Curcuma longa, for treatment of different inflammatory diseases has been described in Ayurveda and in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The active component of turmeric responsible for this activity, curcumin, was identified almost two centuries ago. Modern science has revealed that curcumin mediates its effects by modulation of several important molecular targets, including transcription factors (e.g., NF-kappaB, AP-1, Egr-1, beta-catenin, and PPAR-gamma), enzymes (e.g., COX2, 5-LOX, iNOS, and hemeoxygenase-1), cell cycle proteins (e.g., cyclin D1 and p21), cytokines (e.g., TNF, IL-1, IL-6, and chemokines), receptors (e.g., EGFR and HER2), and cell surface adhesion molecules. Because it can modulate the expression of these targets, curcumin is now being used to treat cancer, arthritis, diabetes, Crohn's disease, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, psoriasis, and other pathologies. Interestingly, 6-gingerol, a natural analog of curcumin derived from the root of ginger (Zingiber officinalis), exhibits a biologic activity profile similar to that of curcumin. The efficacy, pharmacologic safety, and cost effectiveness of curcuminoids prompt us to "get back to our roots."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • India
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy*
  • Plant Roots*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Curcumin