Current research indicates curcumin [diferuloylmethane; a polyphenolic compound isolated from the rhizomes of the dietary spice turmeric (Curcuma longa)] exerts a beneficial effect on health which may be partly attributable to its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. The aim of this review is to examine potential mechanisms of the actions of curcumin in both animal and human studies. Curcumin modulates relevant molecular target pathways to improve glucose and lipid metabolism, suppress inflammation, stimulate antioxidant enzymes, facilitate insulin signalling and reduce gut permeability. Curcumin also inhibits Aβ and tau accumulation in animal models and enhances mitochondria and synaptic function. In conclusion, in high-dose animal studies and in vitro, curcumin exerts a potential beneficial effect on cardiometabolic disease. However, human studies are relatively unconvincing. More intervention studies should be conducted with the new curcumin formulation with improved oral bioavailability.
Keywords: Curcumin; glucose; inflammation; insulin resistance; type 2 diabetes.