aromatic spice, turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the
Zingiberaceae or ginger family, has been used for ages as
a food additive to improve palatibility, storage and presentation.
Its brilliant yellow colour has made it a favoured choice
as a colouring agent for items like cotton, silk, paper, wood,
foodstuffs and cosmetics.
in Sanskrit as"Haridra", turmeric has numerous applications
in the ancient medicinal system of Ayurveda as well as traditional
it is used as a tonic for the stomach and as a blood purifier;
externally, in the prevention and treatment of skin ailments.
Turmeric has been prescribed for liver diseases, particularly
for jaundice, as well as urinary tract diseases.
inhalation of fumes of burning turmeric gives relief in chronic
catarrh and coryza. Turmeric with hot milk and sugar is a
popular household remedy for colds.
the significance of turmeric in medicine has changed considerably
in the last two decades since the discovery of anti- oxidant
properties of naturally occurring phenolic compounds.
concerns over toxicity of synthetic phenolic anti-oxdants
such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole
(BHA) have further stimulated interest in natural phenolics.
is a rich source of a group of phenolic compounds called curcuminoids.
It has three main curcuminoids: curcumin, demethoxycurcumin
and bisdemethoxycurcumin. All three impart the characteristic
yellow colour to turmeric.
and clinical research indicates that these curcuminoids have
potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well
as potential for prevention of cancer and treatment of AIDS.
first, a brief explanation about why anti-oxidants are needed.
Oxygen is crucial to the body for its metabolism.
oxygen utilisation also results in the generation of oxidative
products. These oxidants can cause collateral damage to tissues
fact, inflammation in the body, as is encountered in the course
of certain diseases (such as arthritis) or wound healing,
is nothing more than such collateral damage.
source of oxidants produced by the body is what are called
cytochrome enzymes, which are abundantly present in the lungs
and the liver, organs that protect the body against toxins
entering from air, water and food.
activity of these detoxifying enzymes invariably results in
the generation of oxidant byproducts.
body is also subject to oxidant damage from external sources
like nitrogen oxide present in smog and cigarette smoke or
an excess of metals like iron and copper and their salts in
food and drinks.
of the most common forms of oxidants generated by the body
during normal functioning are superoxides, hydrogen peroxide,
hydroxyl peroxide, hydroxyl radicals and lipid molecules.
so-called "singlet" oxygen molecules are an example
of an oxidant generated by the body in the course of a defense
oxidants are often referred to as "free radicals"
because they are "radical" as opposed to the stable
molecules and "free" to initiate a chain reaction
in the body that will destabilise or make "radical",
molecules from surrounding cells.
process, if not stopped, leads to tissue and organ degeneration
that will eventually result in clinically manifested conditions
such as chronic inflammation, heart disease, accelerated ageing
and disorganised cell growth leading to cancer.
human body has built-in mechanisms to counteract free radicals.
Unfortunately, these anti-oxidant defense mechanisms are gradually
overwhelmed by ageing, disease or both.
the need for external agents like vitamins, minerals, phenolics,
flavonoids and carotenoids which have the ability to counteract
free radical damage by scavenging or neutralising them.
unlike many other anti-oxidants, are capable of both, prevention
of free radical formation and intervention to neutralise existing
of this broad mechanism of action, curcuminoids may be aptly
referred to as "bioprotectants". It is the para
hydroxy groups in the curcumin molecules which are responsible
for the anti-oxidant activity of curcuminoids.
number of researchers have provided convincing evidence that
curcuminoids effectively inhibit potent oxidants such as superoxide
and hydroxyl radicals.
Keto groups and carbon double bonds in the curcumin molecules
are instrumental in preventing lipid peroxidation, which also
generates free radicals.
is known to be associated with increased levels of lipid peroxides
and free radicals, which are generated by the liver as well
as by inflamed tissues in the body.
recent research report showed that curcuminoids are many times
more potent than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), a well-known
anti- oxidant, in inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
chronic inflammation, cytokines induce the production of nitric
oxide that is converted into DNA damaging and carcinogenic
peroxynitrite and nitrite.
recent studies on mouse peritoneal cells it was observed that
curcumin decisively inhibits lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and
interferon.gamma (INF.gamma) induced nitrite production.
research by Sabinsa Corporation, a New Jersey-based producer
of phyto-chemicals and pharmaceuticals promoted by an NRI
scientist, Dr. Muhammed Majeed, showed that the naturally
occurring complex of three curcuminoids in turmeric is superior
in anti-oxidant properties to any individual curcuminoid.
Majeed and his co-researchers, Dr. Vladimir Badmaev and R.
Rajendran, have recently been granted a US patent for a unique
process of preparing the C3 complex comprising 75-81 per cent
curcumin, 15-19 per cent demethoxy curcumin and 2.2-6.5 per
cent bis demethoxy curcumin which is to be used for prevention
of formation and neutralising of free radicals in a patient.
effective dosage for an adult wll be between 50-500 mg/ three
times per day. The composition can be administered alone or
mixed with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier or diluent,
depending on the mode of administration (oral or parenteral).
patented process is novel for the following reasons: