FARMER TO PHARMACIST
Story of a wonder molecule curcumin: Transforming the spice into drug’
Ancient Indian science literature is a hidden treasure of a number of medically active molecules. There have been several arguments on the contributions of ancient Indian science in a variety of fields. Some statements are supported by valid data, while some others are based on flights of mind’s eye. But there is one example of a phenomenon remedy acknowledged as such globally for its potential. The wonder molecule is identified as.
Turmeric commonly known as Haldi is a spice obtained from the dried rhizomes of Curcuma longa, family Zingiberaceae. Use of turmeric can be traced back to Vedic ages around 4000 years old. The root of the concept of miraculous use of turmeric for wound healing and other ailments dates back to the times of prehistoric India.
In Indian homes, this wonderful herb is widely used in cooking, making pickles, curries, salads, as a dye, cosmetic and for medical purposes. Turmeric is also considered very auspicious and has brought into play its role during festivals, holy ceremonial rituals such as Indian wedding ceremonies and religious ceremonies. Haldi ceremony is very important part of weddings in the Hindu tradition. In Ayurveda, it has been put to a variety of uses. It is commonly used to heal injury, treat common cold, flatulence, dyspepsia, liver disorder and various infections.
Curcumin, chemically (1E,6E)-1,7-Bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)hepta-1,6-diene-3,5-dione, a bright yellow compound is the active ingredient of the herbal remedy and dietary spice turmeric which is accountable for long listed uses of turmeric. Curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, make up between 2-6% of the spice. This golden spice has been transformed into a miracle molecule using the active principle constituent that has been acknowledged globally and deliberated extensively by our Indian scientists for its immense therapeutic potential.
All modern research has shown that it is beneficial for wider sets of ailments. Reports are available suggesting the role of turmeric extract in alleviating pain and improved function in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Various laboratories studies data indicates the possible benefit of curcumin as weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer-protective effects. Curcumin has been claimed to safeguard against insulin resistance and help to bring down high blood sugar levels. There has been no ailment against which curcumin has not been tested in some laboratory or other.
Most interesting aspect of the use of curcumin is that there are no reported side effects associated with its use. The only problem with its halted clinical use is its low oral bioavailability due to its low water solubility. It has been claimed that use of piperine (black pepper) along with curcumin (turmeric) help in improving its bioavailability.
The fact remains that curcumin is not an approved drug even for a single ailment but USFDA has classified it as Generally Regarded as a Safe (GRAS) molecule. However, the use of Turmeric is not recommended to patients suffering from gallstones or bile duct dysfunction. Pregnant women shouldn’t use it without their doctors’ approval. In rare cases, extended use can cause stomach upset or heartburn. So taking a moment to spice up your life can have far-reaching consequences. And the truly amazing properties of turmeric make it something we should sprinkle on our food every single day. Based on its huge therapeutic aspects several active investigations are going on to prepare novel curcumin-based molecules for the treatment of various diseases. Emphasized focus of scientists is towards improving the solubility profile of this amazing molecule. Further research in this direction is imperative to realize the clinical use of this promising molecule.
Dr. Suman Rohilla
SGTCP, SGT University, Gurgaon