Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: multitargeting for multiple chronic diseases.
Curcumin, a yellow pigment in the Indian spice Turmeric (Curcuma longa), which is chemically known as diferuloylmethane, was first isolated exactly two centuries ago in 1815 by two German Scientists, Vogel and Pelletier. However, according to the pubmed database, the first study on its biological activity as an antibacterial agent was published in 1949 in Nature and the first clinical trial was reported in The Lancet in 1937. Although the current database indicates almost 9000 publications on curcumin, until 1990 there were less than 100 papers published on this nutraceutical. At the molecular level, this multitargeted agent has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory activity through the suppression of numerous cell signalling pathways including NF-κB, STAT3, Nrf2, ROS and COX-2. Numerous studies have indicated that curcumin is a highly potent antimicrobial agent and has been shown to be active against various chronic diseases including various types of cancers, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, this compound has also been shown to be synergistic with other nutraceuticals such as resveratrol, piperine, catechins, quercetin and genistein. To date, over 100 different clinical trials have been completed with curcumin, which clearly show its safety, tolerability and its effectiveness against various chronic diseases in humans. However, more clinical trials in different populations are necessary to prove its potential against different chronic diseases in humans. This review's primary focus is on lessons learnt about curcumin from clinical trials.