Therapeutic uses ofCurcuma longa (turmeric)


Curcuma longa commonly known as tumeric is traditionally used as a spice in Indian food. A wide range of biological activities e.g. anticancer, antimicrobial, antiinflammatory and free radical scavenging activity of the plant suggests a logical basis for its traditional use in foodstuff. Various phytothreapeutic uses ofCurcuma longa have been reviewed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Khanna, N.M. (1999) Turmeric, Nature's precious gift. Current Science. 76, 1351–1356.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Shiobara, Y., Askawa, Y., Kodama, M. and Takemoto, T. (1986) Zedoarol, 13-hydroxy gemacrone and curzeone, three sesquiterpenoids fromCurcuma spp. Phytochemistry, 25, 1351–1353.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Ayed, S.A. (1991) Effectiveness of synthetic & potential natural antioxidant in improving the stability of sheep anhydrous butter fat during long term storage. J. Sci. Food Agri. 55, 75–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Ramanathan, L. and Das, N.P. (1993) Natural products inhibit oxidative rancidity in salted cooked ground fish. J. Food Science. 58, 318–320.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Pulla Reddy, A.C. and Lokesh, B.R. (1994) Effect of dietary turmeric (Curcuma longa) on iron-induced lipid peroxidation in the rat liver., Food and Chemi. Toxicol. 32, 279–283.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Miguel, J., Martinez, M., Dez, A., De Juar, E., Soler, A., Ramirez, A., Laborde, J. and Carrion, M. (1995) Effects on turmeric on blood & liver lipoperoxide level, lack of toxicity. Age. 18, 171–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Bonte, F., Noel-Hudson, M.S., Wepierra, J. and Meybeck, A. (1947) Protective effect of curcuminoids on epidemal skin cell under free oxygen radicals. Planta Medica. 63, 265–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Park, S.N. and Boo, Y.C. (1989) Cell protection from damage by active oxygen with curcuminoids., Fr. Emande RF 2,655,054 (CI. CI 2 N 5/02), 31 May 1991, KR Appl. 8, 917, 276, 28 Nov. 1989.

  9. 9.

    Thresiamma, K.C., George, J., Kuttran, R., Uma Devi, P. and Bisth, K.S. (1996). Protective effect of curcumin, ellagic acid and bixin on radiation induced toxicity. Ind. J. Exp. Biol. 34, 845–847.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Singh, A., Singh, S.P. and Bamizei, R. (1995) Postnatal modulation of hepatic biotransformation system, enzymes via translocational exposure of F1 mouse pups to turmeric and curcumin. Cancer. Lett. 96, 87–93.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Manoharan, S. (1996) Inhibition of 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide-induced oral carcinogenesis by plant product. J. Clinic. Bioch. Nutr. 21, 141–149.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Azuine, M.A., Kayal, J.J., and Bhide, S.V. (1992) Protective role of aqueous turmeric extract on mutagenicity on direct acting carcinogens as well as benzo (a) pyrene induced genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. J. Canc. Res. Clin Oncol. 118, 447–452.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Deshpande, S.S., Ingle, A.D. and Maru, G.B. (1997) Inhibitory effect of curcumin free aqueous turmeric extract on benzo[a] pyrene induced forestomach papilomas in mice. Cancer Lett. 18, 79–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Azuine, M.A., Kayal, J.J., and Bhide, S.V. (1994). Adjuvant chemoprevention and experimental cancer, catechin and dietary turmeric in forestomach and oral cancer model. J. Ethnopharmacol. 44, 211–217.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Goud, V.K., Polasa, K. and Krishnaswamy, K. (1993) Effect of turmeric on xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes. Plant Food for Hum. Nutr. 44, 87–92.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Mukundan, M.A., Chacko, M.C., Annapurna, V.V. and Krishnaswamy, K. (1993) Effect of turmeric & curcumin on BP-DNA adducts., Carcinogensis. 14, 493–496.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Jain, A.K., Tejuka, H., Koda, T. and Tomita, I. (1987) Evaluation of genotoxic effects of turmeric in mice, Curr. Res. 56, 1005–1006.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Shah, R.G. and Netrawsali, M.S. (1988). Evaluation of mutagenic activity of turmeric extract containing curcumin before and after cultivation and mammalian caecal microbial extract or liver microsomal fraction., Bull. Environ. Contamination Toxicol. 40, 350–357.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Polasa, K., Raghuram, T.C., Krishna, T.P., Prasanna and Krishnaswamy, K. (1992) Effect of turmeric on urinary mutagens in smokers. Mutagenesis. 7, 107–109.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Soudamini, K.K., Kuttan, R. (1989) Inhibition of chemical carcinogenesis by curcumin. J. Ethnopharmacol. 27, 227–233.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Bhide, S.V., Azuine, M.A., Lahiri, M., Telang, M.T. (1994) Chemoprevention of mammary tumor virus induced and chemical induced rodent mammary tumors by natural plant products. Breast Canc. Res. Treatment. 30, 233–240.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Deshpande, S.S. and Maru, G.B. (1995) Effect of curcumin on the formation of benzo (a) pyrene derived DNA adductsin vitro. Cancer Lett. 96, 71–80.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Limtrakul, P., Lipigorngoson, S., Namwong, O., Apisariyakul, A. and Dunn, F.W. (1997) Inhibitory effect of dietary curcumin on skin carcinogenesis in mice. Cancer Lett. 116, 197–203.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Huang, M.T., Ma, W., Yen, P., Xie, J., Han, J.K., Frenkel, K., Grunberger, D. and Conney, A.H. (1997) Inhibitory effects of topical application of low doses of curcumin on 12-o-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate-induced tumor promotion and oxidized DNA bases in mouse epidermis. Carcinogenesis. 18, 83–88.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Rao, C.V., Rivenson, A., Simi, B. and Reddy, B.S. (1995) Chemo-prevention of colon carcinogenesis by dietary curcumin a naturally occurring plant phenolic compound. Canc. Res. Baltimore. 55, 259–266.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Soni, K.B., Rajan, A. and Kuttan, R. (1992) Reversal of aflatoxin induced liver damage by turmeric & curcumin., Cancer Lett. 66, 115–121.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Firozi, P.F., Abobaker, V.S. and Bhattacharya, R.K. (1996) Action of curcumin on cytochrome P450 system catalyzing the activation of aflatoxin B1. Chem. Biol Intern. 100, 41–51.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Ahn, B.Z. and Lee, J.H. (1989) Cytotoxic and cytotoxicity potentiating effects of the Curcuma roots on L1210 cells. Saengyak Hakhoechi. 20, 223–226.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Iyengar, M.A., Rao, M.P., Rao, S.G., Kamath, M.S., Rama Rao, M.P. and Gurumadhava Rao, S. (1994) Anti-inflammatory activity of volatile oil ofC. longa. Indian Drugs. 31, 528–531.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Masuda, T., Jitoe, A., Isobe, J., Nakatani, N. and Yonemori, S. (1993) Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory curcumin related phenolics from rhizome ofCurcuma domestica. Phytochem. 32, 1557–1560.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Ammon, H.P.T., Safayhi, H., Mack, T., Sabieraj, J. and Samuelsson, G. (1993) Mechanism of antiinflammatory actions of curcumin and boswellic acids. J. Ethnopharmacol. 38, 113–119.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Joe, B. and Lokesh, B.R. (1997) Prophylatic & therapeutic effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, capsicin & curcumin on adjuvant induced arthritis in rats. J. Nutri. Biochem. 8, 397–407.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Ammon, H.P.T., Safayhi, H., Mack, T., Sabieraj, J. and Samuelsson, G. (1993) Mechanism of antiinflammatory action of curcumin and boswellic acid. J. Ethnopharmacol. 38, 113–119.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Sharma, M.C. and Dwivedi, S.K. (1990) Efficacy of herbal drug preparation against dermatomycosis in cattle & dog. Ind. Vet. Journal. 67, 269–271.

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Apisariyakul, M., Vanittanakam, N. and Buddasukh, D. (1995) Antifungal activity of turmeric oil extracted fromCurcuma longa. J. Ethnopharmacol. 49, 163–169.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Banerjee, A. and Nigam, S.S. (1978) Antimicrobial efficacy of the essential oil ofCurcuma longa. Ind. J. Med. Res. 68, 864–866.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Kishore, N., Gupta, S. and Dubey, N.K. (1988) Fungitoxic properties of essential oil ofAnethum graveolens Linn. andCurcuma longa Linn. Ind. J. Microbiol. 28, 199.

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Dhar, M.L., Dhar, M.M., Dhawan, B.N., Mehrotra, B.N. and Ray, C. (1968) Screening of Indian Plants for Biological activity. Ind. J. Exp. Biol. 6, 232–256.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Hong, Y., Liu, Z., Xue, S., Yu, H. and Lu, N. (1991) Exploration of new synthetic drug against fungi. Shenyang Yaoxueyuan Xuebao. 8, 129–130.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Singh, R., Bose, M., Chandra, R. and Luthra, P.M. (2001) Antibacterial activity ofCurcuma longa extracts on pathogenic bacteria. Phytotherapy Research (Communicated)

  41. 41.

    Shankaranarayan, J. and Jolly, C.I. (1993) Phytochemical, antibacterial activity ofCurcuma longa extracts onMomordica charantia Linn.Embilica officinalis Gaertn. andCurcuma longa Linn. Ind. J. Pharma. Sci. 1, 6–13.

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Nyein, M.M., Myint, W., Sein, M.M., Bwin, M. and Aye, T. (1996) Antibacterial property of essential oil from six medicinal plants. Mayanmar Health Sci. Res. J. 8, 62–65.

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Kawaguchi, T. and Kida, N. (1987). Natural bactericides for the control of infection in animals., Jpn Kokai, Tokkyo Koho JP 62, 59.214 [87 59, 214], (Cl. A 61 K31/575) 19 Mar 1987.

  44. 44.

    Sindelarova, M., Log Kava, M., Taborsky, V., Busketava, L. and Sindelar, L. (1996) The effects of extracts fromCurcuma longa Linn. on reproduction of Tobacco Mosaic Virus in leaves and mesophyll protoplast of tobacco. Ochara Rostalin, 32, 49–55.

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Yuchi, H. (1997) Inhibitions of reverse transcriptase activity of curcumol Chin. Pharm. J. 49, 119–125.

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Barthelemy, S., Vergens, L., Moynier, M., Guyot, D., Labidalle, S. and Bahrauri, E. (1998) Curcumin and curcumin derivatives inhibit tat mediated transcription of type I HIV long terminal repeat. Res. Virol. 141, 43–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Islam, N., Bhuiah, M.M., Begum, A. and Karim, M.A. (1989) Comparative efficacy of different materials againstSitophilus oryzae infesting maize seed in storage. Bangladesh. J. Zoology. 17, 175–178.

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Chander, H., Kulkarni, S.G. and Berry, S.K. (1991) Effectiveness of turmeric powder and mustard oil as protectants in stored milled rice weevil,Sitophilus oryzae. International Pest Control. 33, 94–97.

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Morallo, B.R., Miani, H., Soyaboc, A.S., Hernandez, H., Quintana, E., Ooi, P.A.C., Lim, G. and Teng, P.S. (1992) Insecticidal activity ofC. longa onPlutela xylostella andNilaparvata lugens. Proc. 3rd Internatl. Conf. on plant protection in the tropics, p. 91–94.

  50. 50.

    Jailani, G., Saxena, R.C. and Rueda, B.P. (1988). Repellent and growth inhibiting effects of turmeric oil. sweetflag oil, neem oil and margosan-o' on red flour beetle. J. Economic Entomol. 81, 1226–1230.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Zheng. (1991). Chinese Medicine-treated antimoth paper & its making method, CN, 1073, 225, (Cl.D21 H17/02), 16 Jun. 1993 Appl. 91, 108, 370, 12 De. 1991, 3 PD.

  52. 52.

    Suzuki, J., Murata, T., Enokida, R. and Vasuda, I. (1994) Effect of Chinese medicine on helminthes VII. Minimum lethal concentration on 3rd stage larvae ofAnisakis simplex with the natural compounds isolated from crude drugs & several kind of derivatives. Tokyo Toritsu Eisci Kankyushu ken Kyu Nenpo. 45, 35–41.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Kiuchi, G.Y., Sugimoto, N., Akao, N., Kondo, K. and Tsudo, Y. (1993) Nematocidal activity of turmeric. Synergistic action of curcuminiods., Chem. Pharm. Bull. 41, 1640–1643.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Khan, A., Bryden, N.A., Polansky, M.M. and Anderson, R.A. (1990) Insulin potentating factor and chromium content of selected foods and spices. Biol. Trace. Element Res. 24, 183–188.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Shirota, S., Mayasaki, K., Ichioka, K. and Yokokura, T. (1993) Skin lightening cosmetics containing melanin inhibitors from plants. Jpn. Kokai. Tokkyo Koho JP 06, 227, 960 [94, 227, 960], (Cl.A61 K7/48) 16 Aug 1994, 93/34, 000, 01 Feb 1993.

  56. 56.

    Oosawa, T. and Ochi, H. (1994) Tyrosinase inhibitors containing curcumin & its analogs., Jpn. Kakai Tokkyo Koho JP 07, 206, [95, 206, 669] (Cl. A 61 K31/12), 08 Aug. 94/2, 839, 14 Jan., 6 ppm.s.

  57. 57.

    Yasni, S., Imaizumi, K., Sugano, M., Nonaka, G. and Sidik (1994) Identification of active principle in essential oils and hexane soluble fractions ofCurcuma xanthorriza showing triglyceride lowering action in rats. Food Chem. Toxicol. 32, 273–278.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Lanksey, P.S., Schilcher, H., Phillipson, J.D. and Loew, D. (1993) Plants that lower cholesterol. Acta. Horticulturae, 322, 131–136.

    Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Srinivas, K. and Sambaiah, K. (1991) The effect of spices on cholesterol 7 α hydroxylase activity on serum & hepatic cholesterol level in rat. Internatl. J. Vit. Nutri. Res. 61, 364–369.

    Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Futagami, Y. (1996) Antiallergenic activity of extracts fromC.longa, effect of curcuminoids. Wakan lyakugaku Zsshi. 13, 430–431.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Imaoka, K., Ohnishi, E., Inouye, S., Takahashi, T., Tooru, K. and Kojima, Y. (1995) Chinese herbal medicines capable of IgE antibody suppression & interferon induction. Wakan lyakugaku Zsshi. 12, 257–263.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Gonda, R., Tomoda, M., Ohara, N. and Takada, K. (1993) Arabinogalactan core structure and immunological activities Ukonam C, an acidic polysaccharide from rhizome ofC.longa. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 16, 235–238.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Gonda, R., Tomoda, M., Takrda, K., Ohara, N. and Shimizu, N. (1992) The core structure of Unonan A a phagocytosis-activating polysaccharide from rhizome ofC.longa and immunological activity of its degradation products. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 40, 990–993.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Kumar, A., Sharma, V.K., Singh, H.P., Prakash, P. and Singh, S.P. (1993) Efficacy of some indigenous drugs in tissue repair in buffalows. Ind. Vet. J. 70, 42–44.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Sawada, K. (1998) Plant growth promoters containing inositol hexaphosphate or choline derivatives & medicinal plant extracts. Jpn. Kokai Tokkyo Koha. JP 04, 59, 711, [92, 59, 711], (Cl.A01 N 65/00) 26 Feb 1998.

  66. 66.

    Takagaki, S.T., Ona, M. and Yamnd, Y. (1996) Testosterone 5α-reductase inhibitors and their uses for drugs for prevention and treatment of prostatomegaly and foods and drinks Jpn. Tokkyo Koho JP. 09, 255, 568, (Cl A61 K31/12), 30 Sep. 1997, Appl 196/91, 817.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pratibha Mehta Luthra.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Luthra, P.M., Singh, R. & Chandra, R. Therapeutic uses ofCurcuma longa (turmeric). Indian J Clin Biochem 16, 153–160 (2001).

Download citation

Key words

  • Curcuma longa
  • Antioxidant
  • Anticancer
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Insecticidal
  • Nematocidal
  • Antimicrobial