The rhizome of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) has been used as an herbal medicine, coloring agent, spice, and food additive for thousands of years in different parts of the world particularly in Asian countries. It has been used for a range of diseases in many traditional medical schools, including Islamic traditional medicine, Chinese traditional medicine, and Ayurveda. It has been used mainly for digestive problems, as a cardio-, hepato-, and neuroprotective agent as well as in many inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and for enhancing immune system. Curcumin, a diarylheptanoid derivative found in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties; controls obesity and metabolic problems; and improves memory and mood disorders. Therapeutically, curcumin exhibits promising potential in preclinical and clinical studies and is currently in human trials for a variety of conditions, including metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, premenstrual syndrome, ulcerative colitis, knee osteoarthritis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, atherosclerosis, liver cirrhosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, depression, psoriasis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Among all beneficial activities reported for curcumin, the research toward the obesity and metabolic-preventing/suppressing aspects of curcumin is growing. These findings emphasize that most of the traditional applications of turmeric is due to the presence of its key constituent, curcumin. According to the traditional background of turmeric use and clinical values of curcumin, further preclinical studies for unstudied properties and clinical studies with larger sample sizes for confirmed activities are expected.
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