Curcuminoids, a major turmeric component, have a sleep-enhancing effect by targeting the histamine H1 receptor

Food Funct. 2022 Dec 13;13(24):12697-12706. doi: 10.1039/d2fo02087d.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) had been considered as a universal panacea in functional foods and traditional medicines. In recent, the sedative-hypnotic effect of turmeric extract (TE) was reported. However, sleep-promoting compounds in TE have been not yet demonstrated. Curcuminoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin) are the major constituents of turmeric being responsible for its various biological activities. Therefore, they can be first assumed to be sedative-hypnotic compounds of TE. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the effects and underlying mechanisms of curcuminoids and each constituent on the sleep-wake cycle of mice. Molecular docking studies, histamine H1 receptor (H1R) binding assays, and H1R knockout animal studies were used to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the sleep-promoting effects. Curcuminoids and their constituents reduced sleep latency and increased sleep duration in the pentobarbital-induced sleep test in mice. In addition, curcuminoids significantly increased the duration of NREMS and reduced sleep latency without altering the REMS and delta activity. Curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin were predicted to interact with H1R in the molecular model. In the binding affinity assay, we found that curcuminoids, as well as their constituents, significantly bind to H1R with the Ki value of 1.49 μg mL-1. Furthermore, sleep latency was reduced and NREMS frequency was increased following curcuminoid administration in wild-type mice but not in H1R knockout mice. Therefore, we conclude that curcuminoids reduce sleep latency and enhance the quantity of NREMS by acting as modulators of H1R, indicating their usefulness in treating insomnia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Curcuma* / chemistry
  • Curcumin* / chemistry
  • Curcumin* / pharmacology
  • Diarylheptanoids* / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Histamine H1* / genetics
  • Receptors, Histamine H1* / metabolism
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical* / chemistry
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical* / pharmacology
  • Sleep Latency* / drug effects
  • Sleep, REM* / drug effects


  • Curcumin
  • Diarylheptanoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Histamine H1
  • bisdemethoxycurcumin
  • Sleep Aids, Pharmaceutical