Background: Obesity in the 21st century society became an important health problem, alarming both the scientists and medicine doctors around the world. That is why, the search for new drug candidates capable to reduce the body weight is of high concern.
Objective: This contribution tends to collect current findings on the biochemistry of obesity and on the application of plants and in particular turmeric tuber - a commonly used spice - as an anti-obesity agent.
Methods: Following an introduction on the biochemical characteristics of obesity, the description of Curcuma secondary metabolites, their pharmacological applications and a study on the plants' regulatory properties in obesity was summarized. Particular attention was paid to curcumin - the major metabolite present in the extracts of Curcuma spp., which is known to exhibit a variety of pharmacological actions. Also, the characteristics of some semisynthetic analogues of this ferulic acid derivative, characterized by a higher polarity and better bioavailability will be discussed.
Results: Numerous scientific papers treat on the influence of turmeric on weight loss. Additionally, some of them describe its anti-inflammatory properties.
Conclusions: This important spice tends to fight the 21st century plague, which is an excessive weight gain, related to the development of metabolic syndrome, to the occurrence of cardiovascular problems and diabetes, and, in consequence, leading to a significant shortening of life span. As herein proven, the extracts of turmeric play an important role in the regulation of inflammatory reactions which are evoked in the overweight patients, helping them reduce the excess body weight.
Keywords: Curcuma spp.; Obesity; Zingiberaceae; curcumin; inflammation; turmeric tuber..
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