curcuma longa


Curcuma Longa/Cúrcuma is a small perennial herb native to India bearing many rhizomes on its root system which are the source of its culinary spice known as Turmeric (Cúrcuma - rizoma secco in polvere) and its medicinal extract called Curcumin (Cúrcuma extracto refinado).

Botanical Classification by Carolus Linnaeus:

  • Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger, Zenzero, Gingembre, Jengibre, Gengibre)
  • Genus: Curcuma
  • Species: Longa
  • Scientific Name: Curcuma Longa Linnaeus (curcuma longa l)
  • India (especially Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu): 600,000 tons annually .
  • Southeast Asia

The Spice Curcuma/Turmeric

  • Description: a yellow/brown powder made from the dried rhizome of Curcuma Longa. It has a slight earthy flavor and little aroma. It is known for its color and for its health-giving properties.
  • Benefits of Turmeric: a Singapore study of the elderly demonstrated a positive connection between turmeric/curry consumption and cognitive function. People who ate curry often (more than once a month) or ate it occasionally (once or more in 6 months) performed significantly better in mental tests than did those who ate curry less than once a month. (American Journal of Epidemiology 11/2006.)
  • Use:
    • in Curry powder, Curcuma is added to the mix of spices which usually consist of: coriander, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, chili, mustard seeds, black peppercorns and salt.
    • as a tea (for example in Okinawa): turmeric can be added to hot water and then strained (with touch of ginger and lemon juice); it can also be added to milk and simmered.

Description of the Extract: Curcumin/Curcuma

Curcuma is a yellow-orange polyphenol. In its usual form it is a dry yellow powder that is oil-soluble. Curcuma is without flavor and aroma. Its strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics are its most obvious medicinal properties.

Curcuma is derived from the root of the Curcuma Longa plant first by drying and powdering, to create the spice called Turmeric, then by a solvent extraction. The resulting refined powder is 18 times stronger in the essential ingredients than is the common spice.

Research on Curcuma has been focused on Alzheimer's, Arthritis, Cancer and Diabetes. In laboratory experiments on rodents, Curcuma can break up the Alzheimer's amyloid-beta polymers, suppress arthritic inflammation, induce apoptosis in some cancer types and improve insulin sensitivity. Human trials of Curcuma for some illnesses are underway.

Technical Information:

  • Synonyms for the pure extract:
    • Curcumin; Turmeric Extract; curcuma longa l (English)
    • Curcuma/Cúrcuma (French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian); also Curcuminé (Fr.)
    • Haldi (हल्दी North India) also Halad, Harida; Manjal (மஞ்சள Tamil) - for the natural spice.
    • Kunyit (Indonesia)
    • Kurkum (الكركم, Arabic)
    • Jiang Huang (姜黄, Chinese)
    • Ukon (ウコン Japanese)
    • diferuloylmethane
    • 1,7-Bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-1,6-heptadiene-3,5-dione
  • Chemical Formula: C21H20O6; Molecular Weight: 368.38
  • Metabolites: Curcumin-sulphate, Curcumin-glucuronide; Catabolites: Vanillic acid and Ferulic acid.
  • Three Molecular Forms: curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
  • Molecular structure: it is a dimer of vanillin (2 molecules of vanillin conjoined). molecule image
    molecular structure of curcumin
Turmeric Spice
turmeric spice
(Es) cúrcuma: rizoma seco en polvo
(Fr) l'épice curcuma: poudre de rhizome sec
(It) cúrcuma: rizoma secco in polvere
(Pt) curcuma: pó de raiz seco

Refined Extract of Curcuma Longa
(Es) curcumina (estado purificado o refinado)
(Fr) curcuma extrait raffiné
(It) cúrcuma extracto refinado
(Pt) curcuma extrato refinado

Medicinal Properties of Curcumin:

Curcuma Longa extract has significant effects in the laboratory on arthritis, amyloid-beta (Alzheimer's polymers), cancer and diabetes. It has the following properties:

  • anti-oxidant;
  • Arthritis: inhibits inflammation, possibly inhibiting something in the pathway of Cox-2 but not Cox-2 itself; not only does it not cause ulcers but is currently being used experimentally as a treatment for ulcers in western countries.
  • Alzheimer's Disease: inhibits formation of, and breaks down, Amyloid-beta oligomers (entwined fibres) and aggregates (lumps) in rodents;
  • blood thinning: reduces clotting and clinging together of platelets;
  • Cancer: causes apoptosis (death) of various cancer cell types including skin, colon, forestomach, duodenum and ovary in the laboratory; we await clinical trials;
  • inhibits viral and fungal disease;
  • inhibits bacteria including Helicobacter Pylori;
  • Diabetes: reduces diabetes in rodents; we await clinical trials.
  • Summary: "Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and other chronic illnesses." - Source: Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:1-75. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H. Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
  • more on curcumin

Traditional and Modern Uses of Curcuma Longa

  • In India, Curcuma Longa has been in use as a culinary ingredient since 3000 BC. It is used as a food coloring for curry and as a preservative for food. As a medicine it is used to treat a wide variety of ailments including stomach ache, skin problems, muscular problems and arthritis. Curcuma Longa has also been used as a clothing dye and as a cosmetic. Indians are thought to consume between 80 and 200 mg per day of Curcuma Longa extract. India as a whole consumes 480,000 tons of turmeric annually.
  • In China it has been used as a topical analgesic, and for colic, hepatitis, ringworm and chest pain.
  • In Europe it is used in many foods as a coloring in mustard, cheese, margarine, beverages and cakes. In the recent past it has been used for dyspepsia, chronic anterior uveitis and Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
  • It is generally recognized as safe by the FDA of the United States.
  • Availability: in capsule form as a health supplement and as the culinary spice Turmeric.

As of October 2011 there are more than 4300 articles cited by Pubmed on the subject of Curcuma Longa products including 1604 on cancer, 66 on arthritis, 181 on alzheimer's disease and 151 on diabetes. This demonstrates that Curcuma Longa is now being used in new ways.

Botanical Features:

  • Trunk: grows to just over 1 metre.
  • Leaves: lengthy and rectangular in shape;
  • Flowers: lengthy white spike flowers.
  • Root System: rhizomes (2.5-7.5 cm in length by 1-2 cm in diameter).
  • Sibling Species of the Curcuma Genus: there are about 80-130 species of Curcuma in the process of identification of which 80 are definite. Other Curcuma species of recent medical interest are Curcuma Kwangsiensis, Curcuma Phaeocaulis and Curcuma Zedoary.

Environmental Niche:

  • Soil: well-drained loam (sandy loam - clay loam); waterlogging is detrimental; heavy clay inhibits rhizome development.
  • Climate: tropical with high rainfall of 1500mm - 2000mm; temperature: 18 - 30 degrees Celsius.
  • Location: open field exposed to the Sun produces more rhizome.
  • Altitude Range: from sea level to 1500m.
  • Predators: shoot borer, leaf roller, rhizome scale, leaf blotch, leaf spot and rhizome rot.
  • Companions: planting with small trees and some shade is acceptable.

Cultivation of Curcuma Longa:

  • planting with the first monsoon showers; irrigation is acceptable;
  • pieces of rhizome are planted (20-40cm apart);
  • furrows and ridges;
  • well fertilized;
  • annual crop taking 7-10 months to mature (wait for the plant to droop and wither);
Curcuma Longa
curcuma longa

Books on Curcuma Longa

  • Turmeric: The genus Curcuma (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - Industrial Profiles) by P. N. Ravindran (Editor), K. Nirmal Babu (Editor), K. Sivaraman (Editor). Publisher: CRC, 1 edition (March 1, 2007)

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This website acknowledges Pubmed ( as source for medical research abstracts.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, hypoglycemics, and people with known medical conditions and/or taking medicines should consult with a licensed physician and/or pharmacist prior to taking dietary supplements.
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