Curcumin is the main biologically active phytochemical compound of the popular Indian spice Turmeric (Curcuma longa) belonging to the ZINGIBERACEAE family. Turmeric is also known as Haridra in Sanskrit, and the other common names of this extensively used magical spice are Haldi, Arishina, Manjal, and Pasupu.
Curcumin is an active component of turmeric (Curcuma longa), used as a spice and as an Ayurvedic medicine for centuries on the Indian subcontinent. Curcumin has been shown to suppress carcinogenesis of the skin, liver, lung, colon, stomach, and breast. It has also been shown to inhibit the proliferation of a wide variety of tumor cells in culture and promote apoptosis through Bid cleavage, cytochrome C release, caspase-9 activation and then caspase-3 activation. Curcumin has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, promote wound healing, prevent skin wrinkling, inhibit inflammation, suppress rheumatoid arthritis, and inhibit human immunodeficiency virus replication.
Curcumin mediates this wide variety of therapeutic effects through the regulation of the transcription factors nuclear factor-kappa B and activator protein, suppression of I?Ba kinase and c-jun N-terminal kinase, and inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase 2, cyclinD1, adhesion molecules, matrix metalloproteases, inducible nitric oxide synthase, HER2, epithelial growth factor receptor, bcl-2, bcl-xl, and tumor necrosis factor. Pharmacologically, curcumin is quite safe, and doses as high as 8 g/day have been administered orally to humans with no side effects. Numerous therapeutic activities as outlined above, its pharmacological safety and its color qualifies curcumin as "Indian solid gold"
Taking the clues from the fascinating curative properties of turmeric mentioned in the books of traditional knowledge, scientists, over the world have been searching for the pharmaceutically active ingredients of turmeric. Curcumin is, one of the standardized extracts of turmeric that has been researched extensively for its disease preventing therapeutic properties.