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Golden Spice Turmeric and Its Health Benefits

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Latika Yadav and Upasana

Submitted: February 7th, 2022Reviewed: February 21st, 2022Published: April 8th, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.103821

Antimicrobial and Pharmacological Aspects of CurcuminEdited by Rabia Shabir Ahmad

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Antimicrobial and Pharmacological Aspects of Curcumin [Working Title]

Dr. Rabia Shabir Ahmad

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Turmeric is a traditional spice extracted from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, a ginger family member (Zingiberaceae). Turmeric, also known as the “Golden Spice of India,” has been utilized for pharmacological purposes in India for ages. It has been used as a household remedy for biliary disorders, anorexia, cough, diabetic sores, hepatic disorders, rheumatism, and sinusitis in traditional medicine. Turmeric and its compounds, namely curcumin and essential oils, have a wide range of biological effects in addition to their usage as a spice and pigment. Curcumin, Turmeric’s active ingredient, is being studied by scientists for its antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-metabolic syndrome activities, neuroprotective activity, antimicrobial effects, anti-arthritis effects, anti-asthma, anti-obesity, cardio and liver toxicity protection activity, anti-depression and anxiety activities, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anticoagulant, anti-fertility activity, anti-diabetic, anti-fibrotic, anti-venom, anti-ulcer, hypotensive and hypocholesterolemic activities. As a result, turmeric and its compounds have the potential to be used in modern medicine to cure a wide range of diseases. These metabolic roles and actions of curcumin are depicted in this chapter for the benefit of human health.


  • curcumin
  • turmeric
  • spice
  • antioxidant
  • health benefits

1. Introduction

The term “Turmeric” was derived from the Latin phrase “terra merita,” which translates as “meritorious earth.” Turmeric has been utilized in folk medicine and religious tradition for at least 6000 years and is also referred to as the “yellow root,” the “golden spice,” and “Indian saffron.” It has 55 aliases in Sanskrit, each referring to a different part of religion or medicine (Table 1) [1]. Turmeric, the grounded rhizome of Curcuma longa, is a popular spice in curries and mustards. It frequently contributes to their distinctive color and flavor due to oleoresins and essential oils. Turmeric belongs to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) illustrated in Figure 1 is frequently used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to cure several ailments [2]. According to the Agricultural Market Intelligent Centre (PJTSAU), global turmeric production is approximately 11 lakh tonnes per year. India leads the global production scenario, accounting for 80% of the total, with China accounting for 8%, Myanmar accounting for 4%, Nigeria accounting for 3%, and Bangladesh accounting for 3%. India exported 1.71 lakh tonnes of turmeric in 20–21, up from 1.37 lakh tonnes the previous year. Bangladesh (49,522 tonnes), the UAE (12,182 tonnes), Iran (10,964 tonnes), the United States (9,712 tonnes), and Morocco are the top turmeric importing countries from India (8,522 tonnes). Turmeric sales have been steadily increasing since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020–2021 [3].

Figure 1.

Venn diagram shows the taxonomical classification ofCurcuma longa.

C. longa L.grown in hot and humid climates. It needs much water and grows up to one-meter height. Turmeric plant leaves are enormous and oblong with short pseudostem. It carries pale yellow flowers without fruits. The rhizome grown underground contains a mother rhizome with many branching subordinate rhizomes. They are ovate, oblong, or pyriform in shape and pale yellow, reddish-yellow, or orange-brown [4, 5, 6] shown in Figure 2 and Table 1.

Figure 2.

Pictures ofCurcuma Longaplant (A), flower (B), turmeric rhizomes (C) and rhizome powder (D) of turmeric (Curcuma longaL.). The images used in drawing the figure were extracted from the following links as described below: (A), (B), (C), and (D)

CountriesCommon Name
Indiaहल्दी (haldi) in Hindi; हरिद्रा (haridrā)or वरवर्णिनी (varavarṇinī)in Sanskrit
Nepalहल्दी (haldi)and (be-sar)
BangladeshHaldi, halud
Japan欝金 (ukon), Tamerikku
China姜黄 (jiang huang,literal: “Ginger Yellow”)
United StatesIndian saffron,turmeric
GermanyGelbwurz(literal: Yellow Root) or Kurkuma
RussiaKoren, kurkumy, Kurkuma
PortugalAçafrão da Índia, Curcuma
Korea(강황)kang hwang
Thailandขมิ้น (kamin), Khamin,khamin-chan
MalayasiaKunyit, temu kuniyit
SpainCurcuma, Azafran arabe
FranceCurcuma, Safran des Indes
Arabiaكركم (kurkum)
Persiaزردچوبه (zardchubeh)

Table 1.

Common names of C. longain different countries.


2. Phytoconstituents of turmeric

Turmeric has been found to have over 100 constituents. Turmeric’s primary root component is a volatile oil containing turmerone and additional colorants called curcuminoids. Turmeric’s principal phytoconstituents are diarylheptanoids, which combine to form curcuminoids and account for approximately 16% of turmeric’s dry weight [7]. The majority of crude turmeric extracts, as well as some refined “curcumin” materials (Figure 3), contain three major compounds: curcumin I (diferuloylmethane) at 94%, curcumin II (demethoxycurcumin) at 6%, and curcumin III (bisdemethoxycurcumin) at 3%, in addition to volatile oils, sugars, proteins, and resins [8]. Turmeric in its purest form comprises 5–6.6 percent curcumin, 0.5 percent extraneous matter, 3% mold, and 3.5 percent volatile oils. Turmerone, arturmerone, curcumene, germacrone, and ar-curcumene are examples of these compounds [9]. Volatile oils include d-α-phellandrene, d-sabinene, cinol, borneol, zingiberene, and sesquiterpenes [10]. Turmerone, arturmerone, and zingiberene are the active ingredients in turmeric that give it its flavor and aroma. Additionally, four novel polysaccharides, ukonans, stigmasterole, β-sitosterole, cholesterol, and 2-hydroxymethyl anthraquinone, were discovered in the rhizomes in recent investigations [11, 12].

Figure 3.

Structure of Curcumin I (Diferuloylmethane), Curcumin II (Demethoxy-curcumin) and Curcumin III (Bisdemethoxy-curcumin). Source:

According to the Indian Food Composition Table (2017), Turmeric Powder (Curcuma domestica) is a major source of macro and micronutrients. The Table 2 shows that it is rich in fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Turmeric is also a good source of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid [13].

Moisture10.58 g/100 g
Protein7.66 g/100 g
Ash6.13 g/100 g
Total Fat5.03 g/100 g
Total Dietary Fiber (Insoluble and Soluble)21.38 (18.79 and 2.59)g/100 g
Carbohydrate49.22 g/100 g
Thiamine B10.06 mg/100 g
Riboflavin B20.01 mg/100 g
Niacin B31.55 mg/100 g
Pantothenic acid B50.13 mg/100 g
Total B60.13 μg/100 g
Biotin B70.76 μg/100 g
Total folate B913.86 μg/100 g
Linoleic Acid1563 mg/100 g
α-Linolenic acid377 mg/100 g
Total Saturated Fatty Acid (TSFA)1634 mg/100 g
Total Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acid (TMUFA)448 mg/100 g
Total Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acid (TPUFA)1940 mg/100 g
Lutein99.8 μg/100 g
Zeaxanthin3.56 μg/100 g
Beta Carotene55.20 μg/100 g
Total Carotenoid427 μg/100 g
Calcium122 mg/100 g
Iron46.08 mg/100 g
Copper0.44 mg/100 g
Magnesium260 mg/100 g
Sodium24.41 mg/100 g
Potassium2374 mg/100 g
Phosphorus276 mg/100 g
Zinc2.64 mg/100 g
Selenium6.41 μg/100 g

Table 2.

Nutrient composition of turmeric powder (Curcuma domestica).

According to several studies, curcumin is “generally recognised as safe” (GRAS) as a food additive up to a dose of 20 mg per serving, according to the FDA [14]. Together with turmeric’s long history and cultural use as a medicine, this classification has contributed to its appeal as a dietary supplement marketed for a range of common ailments. Curcumin supplement sales were estimated to have exceeded $20 million in the United States in 2014, but an exact figure is difficult to verify [15]. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act legislation constructing the validity of dietary supplements in the United States (1994) and progressions in in-vitrotesting almost certainly played a significant role in a dramatic increase in the publication of manuscripts describing the use of curcumin in biological studies in the late 1990s (Figure 4). Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cardiovascular, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antidiabetic, skin protective, radioprotective, wound healing, antigastrointesinal properties, antioxidant, immunomodulating, anticarcinogenic, and Alzheimer’s [16].

Figure 4.

Health benefits of curcumin.


3. Health benefits of curcumin

Turmeric’s key element, curcumin, has been demonstrated to have a various health benefits.

3.1 Antioxidant activity

Curcumin has been shown to protect against oxidative damage during indomethacin-induced gastric lesions by inhibiting gastric peroxidase inactivation and directly scavenging H2O2 and OH. Since reactive oxygen species have been associated with the development of various pathological illnesses, Turmeric’s potent antioxidant activity enables it to regulate these diseases [17]. In vivo, curcumin reduces the formation of reactive oxygen species. It was reported that by suppressing lipid peroxidation and by scavenging a plethora of reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide, Nitric oxide radicals, and superoxide radicals, curcumin enhances its antioxidant functions. This latter action is related to the increased activity of numerous antioxidant enzymes, including Superoxide dismutase, Catalase and Glutathione peroxidase [18]. It was also reported that curcumin boosts GSH levels by increasing the expression of glutathione transferase and its mRNAs, regarded as a chain-terminating antioxidant due to its lipophilic properties and decreased reactive oxygen species production by enzymes such as lipoxygenases, cyclooxygenases, and xanthine oxidase [19].

3.2 Role in anti-inflammation

Inflammation is a vital activity in the body because it helps the body fight off invading microorganisms and repair damage caused by bacteria, viruses, and traumas. Numerous studies have demonstrated that curcumin has significant promise for treating various inflammatory illnesses [20, 21, 22]. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits both lipoxygenase and COX-2. Both in vitro and in vivo investigations have established its anti-inflammatory properties in the acute and chronic phases of inflammation. Curcumin reduced edema in mice at dosages ranging from 50 to 200 mg/kg. A 48 mg/kg body weight dose resulted in a 50% reduction in edema, making curcumin approximately as efficacious as cortisone and phenylbutazone at comparable doses. A lower dose of 20–80 mg/kg reduced paw inflammation and edema in rats. Curcumin also reduced formaldehyde-induced arthritis in rats when administered at a 40 mg/kg dose and exhibited no acute toxicity when administered at levels up to 2 g/kg/day [23].

3.3 Help in treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

RA is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disease characterized by severe and symmetric polyarthritis. Numerous studies have demonstrated that Curcumin possesses anti-arthritic effects. Curcumin and rapamycin dramatically reduced ankle and joint redness and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis rats. Curcumin blocked the mTOR pathway generated by CIA and the invasion of inflammatory cells into the synovium induced by RA. Curcumin and rapamycin therapy decreased proinflammatory cytokine levels in CIA rats, including IL-1, TNF-, MMP-1, and MMP-3 [24]. Additionally, it was discovered that consuming turmeric extracts alone or in combination with other herbal substances can help control pain and improve function in persons with knee osteoarthritis [25].

3.4 Prevent from cardiovascular disease

Dyslipidemia is a significant and prevalent risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the general population. Turmeric may be helpful in preventing arterial blockage, which can result in either a heart attack or a stroke. Turmeric contributes to maintaining normal cholesterol levels and inhibits LDL cholesterol oxidation (bad cholesterol). Oxidized LDL deposits in artery walls and contributes to atherosclerotic plaque development. Additionally, turmeric may inhibit platelet aggregation along injured blood vessel walls. Platelets deposit together at the site of a ruptured blood vessel, leading to the formation of blood clots and arterial obstruction [26]. Curcumin has been shown to improve endothelial function and decrease monocyte adhesion generated by TNFα in endothelial cells via NF-κB suppression [27]. Additionally, it was shown that curcumin inhibits the production of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor, hence reducing cardiovascular disorders. Curcumin inhibits the AT1R gene promoter’s ability to bind to the specificity protein 1 [28]. Turmeric and curcumin were shown to protect people at risk of cardiovascular disease by improving serum lipid levels [29].

3.5 Effect on gastrointestinal tract

Turmeric possesses several anti-inflammatory characteristics that are beneficial to the digestive tract. The components of Curcuma longa, sodium curcuminate, and p-tolymethylcarbinol have various positive effects on the digestive tract. Due to curcumin’s increased bioavailability in the intestinal tract, gastrointestinal illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, hepatic fibrosis, and gastrointestinal malignancies have been among the most investigated ailments, demonstrating curcumin’s potential therapeutic benefit [30]. Sodium curcuminate decreases intestinal spasm and the release of p-tolymethylcarbinol while boosting the secretion of gastrin, secretin, bicarbonate, and pancreatic enzymes. Curcumin was demonstrated to protect the mucosa of mice with artificially induced colitis from harm. Curcumin was able to reduce inflammation in experimentally induced pancreatitis rats significantly. Curcumin was also reported to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory mediators in other kinds of induced pancreatitis, such as cerulean or ethanol, as determined by histology, pancreatic trypsin, serum amylase, and neutrophil infiltration [31]. Turmeric has also been demonstrated to prevent ulcer formation in rats exposed to various gastrointestinal stimuli, including stress, alcohol, indomethacin, pyloric ligation, and reserpine [32].

3.6 Antidiabetic properties

Turmeric has been shown in experimental studies to play a substantial effect on diabetes. Turmeric rhizome powder is beneficial in Madhumeha (diabetes mellitus) when combined with Amla juice and honey [33]. Turmeric’s active components, curcuminoids, inhibit lipid peroxidation by promoting the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and peroxidase. Curcumin and its three derivatives (demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and diacetyl curcumin) are responsible for C. longa’s antioxidant capabilities [34]. It has been shown that the ethanolic extract of turmeric, which contains curcuminoids and sesquiterpenoids, is significantly more hypoglycemic than curcuminoids or sesquiterpenoids alone. Turmeric has remarkable effects on postprandial plasma glucose and insulin levels [35, 36]. Turmeric also helps prevent problems associated with diabetes mellitus. Turmeric’s impact on blood sugar was demonstrated experimentally on albino rats, and the polyol pathway discovered that both turmeric and curcumin lowered blood sugar levels in alloxan-induced diabetes [37].

3.7 Effect on skin

Due to its antioxidant properties, it has photoprotective properties. Unsaturated lipids make up a sizable portion of the lipids on the skin’s surface. As a result, they are frequently targeted by free radicals. The sun’s UV rays penetrate the epidermis, accelerating the oxidative damage produced by free radicals. Prolonged exposure to these radiations may damage the lipids, resulting in a loss of skin texture. Turmeric extract has been proven in laboratory experiments to reduce inflammation and protect epidermal cells from the damage caused by ultraviolet B radiation. Curcumin has been proven to protect against chromosomal damage caused by gamma radiation in tiny dosages of turmeric [38].

3.8 Anti-cancer effect

Curcumin has been found to inhibit carcinogenesis via two distinct mechanisms: angiogenesis and cancer cell proliferation. Additionally, it inhibits cancer cell metastasis and promotes apoptosis in cancer cells [39]. Curcumin has been demonstrated to inhibit angiogenic factor stimulators such as VEGF and primary fibroblast growth factor. Indeed, curcumin has been shown to inhibit VEGF expression via NF-kB and AP-1 regulation, inhibiting IL-8 expression [40]. Curcumin is also capable of inducing apoptosis in cancer cells via a p53-dependent mechanism. p53 is a well-characterized tumor suppressor protein that regulates cell proliferation, necrosis, and DNA damage [41]. Curcumin has also been shown to reduce colon cancer by suppressing the Wnt/b-catenin signaling pathways via miR-130a [42]. In cancer models, curcumin has also been shown to inhibit and suppress the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway [43, 44].

3.9 Immunological activity

Curcumin demonstrates a broad range of biological activities that benefit human health. Apart from these functions, curcumin’s primary property is immunological activity, which is why it has been demonstrated to be effective against anti-immune diseases. When the effect of curcumin on the immunological profiles of the blood was explored, it was shown that white blood cells (WBCs) and especially lymphocytes produced increased levels of immunoglobulins (IgG and IgM) [45]. Curcumin has been shown to attenuate bradykinin-induced coughing [46, 47]. It inhibits chemokine release and, therefore, may protect against acute lung injury [46, 48]. Patients with severe respiratory sickness exhibit a hyper-immune response manifested by extensive alveolar destruction, epithelial apoptosis, fibrin accumulation, and the creation of a hyaline membrane. A low neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio is a poor prognostic predictor for COVID-19 at the cellular and molecular level [49, 50].

3.10 Antimicrobial properties

The rhizome of C. longahas traditionally been employed as an antibacterial agent [51]. Numerous studies have demonstrated curcumin’s antimicrobial activity, which includes antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties:

3.10.1 Antibacterial activity

Antibacterial activity against Staph. Epidermis ATCC 12228, Staph. aureus ATCC 25923, Klebsiella pneumoniaeATCC 10031, and E. coliATCC 25922 were demonstrated using an aqueous extract of C. longarhizome minimum inhibitory concentration values of 4–16 g/L and minimum bactericidal concentration values of 16–32 g/L [52]. Likewise, it was demonstrated that adding 0.3 percent (w/v) aqueous curcumin extract to cheese reduced Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli0157:H7 bacterial counts. Additionally, it reduced Staph. Aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Listeria monocytogenescontamination following a 14-day cold storage period [53]. Turmeric oil was also efficient against B. subtilis, B. coagulans, B. cereus, Staph. aureus, E. coli, and P. aeruginosaas a byproduct of curcumin synthesis [54].

3.10.2 Antiviral activity

Curcumin, a plant product, has been shown to exhibit a broad spectrum of antiviral action against various viruses. Due to its rate-limiting action in the de novo synthesis of guanine nucleotides, the inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) enzyme has been proposed as a therapeutic target for antiviral and anticancer agents. Among the 15 specific polyphenols, curcumin has been recommended as a powerful antiviral agent via its inhibitory activity against IMPDH in either a non-competitive or competitive way [55]. Additionally, curcumin dramatically suppressed the acetylation of the HIV Tat protein by p300, which is related to the inhibition of HIV-1 replication. Curcumin is a potent chemical for combinatorial HIV treatments because it targets the p300/CREB-binding protein (CBP) acetyltransferase proteins [56].

3.10.3 Antifungal activity

Historically, extracts from various natural resources, mainly plants, served as an effective armament for battling fungal infections and rotting. Curcumin inhibited the growth of two phytophagous fungi, Fusarium solani and Helminthosporium oryzae. Turmeric oil was highly effective against F. solaniand H. oryzae, with an IC50 of 19.73 and 12.7 g/mL, respectively [57]. Turmeric powder was applied at concentrations of 0.8 and 1.0 g/L to plant tissue culture and showed a substantial inhibitory effect against fungal contaminations [58]. Curcumin also inhibited Cryptococcus neoformansand Cryptococcus dubliniensis, with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 32 mg/L [59]. Curcumin was discovered to be a highly effective fungicide against 14 Candida strains, including four ATCC strains and ten clinical isolates, with MIC values ranging from 250 to 2000 g/mL [60].


4. Conclusions

Medicinal plants are a veritable goldmine of materials containing active compounds. They play a crucial part in both traditional and novel medication development. The importance of medicinal plants in human health, cultural values, and well-being is recognized in many parts of the world. Nowadays, the demand for herbal medications is approximately 80% of the population and increases as people become more reliant on herbal remedies. A comprehensive review of the literature found that C. longa, with its various pharmacological properties, is regarded as a comprehensive global approach among herbal medicines. Curcumin is used as a culinary spice and food color and an ingredient in various Ayurvedic and Chinese medical formulations. Through the decades, science has established the broad range of beneficial impacts curcumin has on human health. In India, the “golden spice” has been used for centuries as a cooking ingredient, preservative, coloring agent for dye, traditional medicines, ceremonies, and religious purposes, as well as a home treatment. In India, every household uses turmeric daily. This plant is regarded as a versatile medicinal plant because it contains various chemical components. Thus, it is evident that in order to battle diseases, extensive research is required to determine their therapeutic utility.



We pay our profound sense of gratitude to Dr. Satish Kumar Yadav for his assistance, encouragement, and insightful advice throughout in constructing this book chapter. We also apologize for not citing the research papers of all the authors that helped me in better understanding this topic.


Conflict of interest

Authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Written By

Latika Yadav and Upasana

Submitted: February 7th, 2022Reviewed: February 21st, 2022Published: April 8th, 2022