Curcumin is a component of the Indian spice turmeric (Curcumin longa), a type of ginger. Curcumin is one of three curcuminoids present in turmeric, the other two being desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. These curcuminoids give turmeric its yellow color and curcumin is used as a yellow food colorant and food additive. Curcumin is obtained from the dried rhizome of the turmeric plant, which is a perennial herb that is cultivated extensively in south and southeast Asia. The rhizome or the root is processed to form turmeric which contains 2% to 5% curcumin.
Its biological effects range from antioxidant, anti-inflammatory to inhibition of angiogenesis and is also shown to possess specific antitumoral activity. The molecular mechanism of its varied cellular effects has been studied in some details and it has been shown to have multiple targets and interacting macromolecules within the cell.
Curcumin has been the subject of much interest and research over the last few decades due to its medicinal properties. Research has demonstrated that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce inflammation and may even play a role in cancer treatment. Curcumin has been shown to reduce the transformation, proliferation and spread of tumors and it achieves this through regulation of transcription factors, inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, protein kinases and other enzymes.