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CURCUMIN: THE INDIAN SOLID GOLD

CURCUMIN: THE INDIAN SOLID GOLD

CURCUMIN: THE INDIAN SOLID

P1: OTE/SPH P2: OTE SVNY332-Aggarwal December 22, 2006 16:34 CURCUMIN: THE INDIAN SOLID GOLD Bharat B. Aggarwal, Chitra Sundaram, Nikita Malani, and Haruyo Ichikawa Abstract: Turmeric, derived from the plant Curcuma longa, is a gold-colored spice commonly used in the Indian subcontinent, not only for health care but also for the preservation of food and as a yellow dye for textiles. Curcumin, which gives the yellow color to turmeric, was first isolated almost two centuries ago, and its structure as diferuloylmethane was determined in 1910. Since the time of Ayurveda (1900 bc) numerous therapeutic activities have been assigned to turmeric for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. Extensive research within the last half century has proven that most of these activities, once associated with turmeric, are due to curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses. These effects are mediated through the regulation of various transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, and other enzymes. Curcumin exhibits activities similar to recently discovered tumor necrosis factor blockers (e.g., HUMIRA, REMICADE, and ENBREL), a vascular endothelial cell growth factor blocker (e.g., AVASTIN), human epidermal growth factor receptor blockers (e.g., ERBITUX, ERLOTINIB, and GEFTINIB), and a HER2 blocker (e.g., HERCEPTIN). Considering the recent scientific bandwagon that multitargeted therapy is better than monotargeted therapy for most diseases, curcumin can be considered an ideal “Spice for Life”. 1. INTRODUCTION The questions of whether medicines discovered today are safer, more efficacious, and more affordable than generic medicines (whose patents have expired) or medicines that are centuries old could be answered “no” for most of the modern medicines. If so, then it is logical to revisit and revive these age-old medicines for the welfare of mankind. Curcumin is one such medicine. Its history goes back over 5000 years, to the heyday of Ayurveda (which means the science of long life). Turmeric derived from the rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa has 1

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