Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry and Traditional Uses of Curcuma spp. and Pharmacological Profile of Two Important Species (C. longa and C. zedoaria): A Review

Curr Pharm Des. 2019;25(8):871-935. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666190402163940.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: The genus Curcuma, which is the most important source of curcumin, has been widely used in different traditional medicines. Various species of Curcuma have long been used for several purposes such as healing wounds, liver disorders, jaundice and also as a blood purifier.

Aim of the study: This review focused on the ethnopharmacological uses and phytochemical aspects of Curcuma. Additionally, in this study, the different properties of two species of Curcuma in Islamic Traditional Medicine (ITM), C. longa and C. zedoaria, as well as their pharmacological aspects in modern medicine are reviewed.

Materials and methods: ITM literatures were searched to find Curcuma's applications. Also, electronic databases including PubMed and Scopus were searched to obtain studies giving any in vitro, in vivo or human evidence of the efficacy of C. longa and C. zedoaria in the treatment of different diseases. ChemOffice software was used to find chemical structures.

Results: The analysis showed that ethno-medical uses of Curcuma have been recorded for centuries. Approximately, 427 chemical compounds have been isolated and identified from Curcuma spp. This genus is rich in flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanin, phenolic compounds, oil, organic acids and inorganic compounds. Curcumin is one of the main active ingredients in Curcuma which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Besides, pharmacological studies have indicated wide range of Curcuma's activities, such as hepato-protective, antifungal, antihypertensive and neuroprotective.

Conclusions: In this study, we reviewed various studies conducted on ethno-medicinal, ITM properties and photochemistry of Curcuma spp. Also, pharmacological activities of two species, C. longa and C. zedoaria are summarized. Pre-clinical investigations have demonstrated some of the traditional aspects of Curcuma, such as wound healing, anti-arthritic, anti-tumor and liver protective activities. These could be related to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Curcuma which might be due to high amounts of phenolic compounds. Curcuma is mentioned to have neural tonic properties in ITM which have been confirmed by some animal studies. Considering various preclinical studies on C. longa and C. zedoaria and their active ingredient, curcumin, randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm their promise as a clinically effective hepato and neuro-protective agents.

Keywords: Curcuma; Curcuma longa; Curcuma zedoaria; Zingiberaceae; curcumin; liver protection; turmeric..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Curcuma / classification
  • Ethnobotany*
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts


  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts