Curcumin, the active substance of turmeric: its effects on health and ways to improve its bioavailability

J Sci Food Agric. 2021 Nov;101(14):5747-5762. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.11372. Epub 2021 Jul 14.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) is a spice utilized widely in India, China, and Southeast Asia as an aromatic stimulant, a food preservative, and coloring material. The commonly used names of turmeric are castor saffron, turmeric, and saffron root. Turmeric is a yellow-orange polyphenolic natural substance derived from C. longa rhizomes. It has been used to treat common inflammatory diseases, tumors, biliary diseases, anorexia, cough, topical wounds, diabetic injuries, liver disorders, rheumatism, and sinusitis. Extensive studies on the biological properties and pharmacological consequences of turmeric extracts have been conducted in recent years. Curcumin, the primary yellow biocomponent of turmeric, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiprotozoal, antiviral, antifibrotic, immunomodulatory, and antifungal properties. Defense assessment tests showed that curcumin is tolerated well at high doses, without adverse effects. Thus, curcumin is a highly active biological material with the potential to treat different diseases in modern medicine. This review article focuses on curcumin's biological characteristics. The most popular methods for curcumin encapsulation are also discussed. Several effective techniques and approaches have been proposed for curcuminoid capsulation, including nanocomplexing, gelation, complex coacervation, electrospraying, and solvent-free pH-driven encapsulation. This review also highlights curcumin's chemical properties, allowing the readers to expand their perspectives on its use in the development of functional products with health-promoting properties. © 2021 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: bioavailability; biological activity; curcumin; electrospraying; gelation; nanocomplexation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Curcumin / chemistry*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Compounding
  • Humans


  • Curcumin