Curcuma longa

scientific name: 
Curcuma longa L.
Curcuma domestica Valeton
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Perennial aromatic herb 60-100 cm tall with short stem and tufted leaves. At base of stem a primary oval tuber branching to produce many rhizomes, with distinctive smell and taste, brownish and scaly on the surface and bright orange inside. Leaves uniformly green, tufted 30-50 cm x 7-8 cm, blades lanceolate acuminate, papery; inflorescence a scape, 10-15 x 5-7 cm, enclosed by leaf sheaths; flowers 5 cm long, white, thin, translucent; fruits are not produced.




  rhizome, decoction with salt, orally2


  rhizome, decoction, orally1


  rhizome, aqueous maceration, orally2

liver disfunction:

  rhizome, aqueous maceration, orally2

The rhizome of Curcuma longa is widely used for human consumption and is an industrial source of essential oil.

For abscess and jaundice :

Prepare a decoction with 20 grams (4 teaspoonfuls) of rhizome in 1 liter (4 cups) of water, and boil for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot.  Leave to cool down, and drink 1 cup 3-4 times a day.

For jaundice and hepatic disorders:

Grind 20 grams (4 teaspoonfuls) of rhizome and add to 1 liter (4 cups) of boiled water.  Let the preparation settle for 12 hours.  Filter and drink in several portions within the following 12 hours47.

According to published and other information:

Use for jaundice and hepatic disorders is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Due to the health risks involved with jaundice and hepatic disorders, an initial medical evaluation is recommended.  The use of this resource can be considered complementary to medical treatment, unless it is contraindicated.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the hepatic disorder last more than 5 days, or 3 days in children under 5 years, seek medical attention.

Not for use by women intending to become pregnant, during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 3 years old.

Use for abscess is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Not for use in patients with obstructions in the bile-conducting structures, such as stones, unless under supervision of a physician, nor in people with a record of hypersensitivity to the plant4-5.

Rhizome powder can cause reactions in case of contact with the skin.

TRAMIL Research48(will be translated in 3rd Edition)

El extracto acuoso liofilizado, de rizoma fresco, concentración de 66.67 mg/mL de agua, vía oral (1000 mg/kg/día) a 20 ratones Hsd:ICR (10 machos y 10 hembras) de 21.19 + 1.95 gramos, durante 65 días con 14 días adicionales de observación, según el protocolo EPA.OPPTS.870.3100. El control se realizó con agua (0.5 mL/20 g de ratón) a otros 10 ratones de la misma cepa y características. Durante el ensayo ni en el periodo de observación posterior, se presentó mortalidad, ni se evidenció ningún signo de toxicidad (Test Polidimensional de Irwing), a excepción de piloerección leve en algunos machos durante algunos días de las semanas 3, 6, 9, 10 y 11. No se observaron cambios en los pesos corporales más que los normales en la curva de crecimiento. La autopsia macroscópica no evidenció alteraciones en los órganos.

The root and curcumin (diferuloyl methane) were shown to have antimutagenic activity in aflatoxin B1 (AFB1)-induced genotoxicity (0.5 mg/plate) in Salmonella TA98 and TA100 strains.  The administration of curcuma in the diet (0.05%) of rat significantly diminished the number of AFB1-induced positive foci in g-glutamyl-transpeptidase39.

The aqueous extract and curcumin of the root inhibited the chemical carcinogenesis induced by 4-nitro-O-phenylenediamine or 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine, in the in vitro mutagenicity test on Salmonella typhimurium (TA98 y TA100)40.

The aqueous extract from the rhizome by intraperitoneal administration to mouse reached an LD50 = 430 mg/kg41.

The root in the daily feed of rat for 3 months neither modified food intake nor increased weight, nor produced any histological changes42.

The ethanolic extract from the rhizome administered orally to mice, at a single dose (0.5, 1 or 3 g/kg) and at repeated doses (100 mg/kg/day) for 90 days, did not cause a significant increase in weight and there were no substantial changes in heart and lung weight.  The hematologic studies revealed a significant decline of leukocytes and hematocytes compared to controls.  There was an increase in the weight of the sexual organs as well as in the motility and quantity of the sperm in male mice treated.  There were no toxic effects on spermatozoa43.

The administration of curcuma at 0.5% or curcumin at 0.015% in the feed of mice did not prove to be mutagenic, and modified neither the fertility rate nor the number of live or dead embryos44.

The extract from the dried rhizome by intraperitoneal administration to female rats showed anti-implantation effects45.

The rhizome powder may be allergenic on repeated contact with the skin46.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during pregnancy or when breast feeding.

The rhizome contains quinoids: 2-hydroxymethyl-anthraquinone6; sesquiterpenes: α and ɣ allantoin, bisabolene7, bisacumol, bisacurone8, caryophyllene, curcumene9, curcumenone8,19; steroids: cholesterol, campesterol, stigmasterol10; monoterpenes: cineole11, camphene, borneol, camphor, terpinene9,19; phenylpropanoids: caffeic acid, ρ-coumaric acid12, 4-hydroxy cinnamoyl-methane13; lignans: iso-procurcumenol8, 4-hydroxy-cinnamoyl-(feruloxyl)-methane14; benzenoids: curcumin and derivatives15, guaiacol16; carbohydrates: ukonan A17; alkaloids18; essential oil: turmerone, dehydroturmerone, zingiberene19, atlantone, curcumenol19.

The plant also contains other curcumins20-21: demethoxycurcumin; fatty acids: caprylic acid; 1-phenylhydroxy-n-pentane22 and polysaccharides23.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of rhizome24: calories: 354; water: 11.4%; protein: 7.8%; fat: 9.9%; carbohydrate: 64.9%; fiber: 6.7%; ash: 6%; calcium: 182 mg; phosphorus: 268 mg; iron: 41.4 mg; sodium: 38 mg; potassium: 25 mg; carotene: 0 µg; thiamine: 0.15 mg; riboflavin: 0.23 mg; niacin: 5.14 mg; ascorbic acid: 26 mg.

TRAMIL Research25

The assessment of hepatoprotective activity was performed in vitro using isolated rat hepatocytes experimentally poisoned with terbutyl-hydroperoxide (TBH).  Activity was assessed in vitro against free radicals in the diphenyl-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) radical inhibition test.  The experiments were conducted using the aqueous extract from the rhizome (infusion, 15 minutes; then maceration, 4 hours) with dosage stated in mg of dried vegetal material.  At doses equal to or higher than 0.5 mg/mL of suspension, the aqueous extract from the rhizome counteracted TBH-induced cellular necrosis, without modifying lipid peroxidation.  Anti-free radical activity was very weak.

The rhizome had hepato-protective22 and cytostatic activity in experimental models in vitro26-27 and in vivo in mice at a dose of 100 mg/kg28.

The rhizome has been experimentally reported as having anti-inflammatory properties4,29.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the rhizome, orally administered, significantly diminished cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rat blood at a dose (stated in dried plant weight) of 30 mg/g30.

Rhizome powderadministered orally (500 mg, 4 times a day, during 1 week) was significantly beneficial in 116 patients with acid, flatulent and atonic dyspepsia in a double blind and randomized trial4.

Curcumin is a yellow pigment that has been shown to counteract paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in the rat31.

The anti-inflammatory activity of the rhizome is attributed to curcumin and the essential oil.  Curcumin is much less active when administered orally than intraperitoneally, although it retains its hepatoprotective, choleretic and cholagogue properties32.

Turmerone is claimed to have hepatotonic, choleretic33-34, cholagogue and anti-inflammatory activity.  Its effects are boosted by curcumin35-36.

Borneol is claimed to have hepatoprotective effects, while zingiberene is believed to have anti-ulcerous properties33.

1-phenyl-hydroxy-n-pentane stimulated the secretion of secretin, gastrin and pancreatic bicarbonate in dogs and humans; it also contributed to the maintenance of gastric pH22.

Several compounds present in the rhizome are reported as having anti-coagulant activity in the rat37.

A preparation with the leaf of Andrographis paniculata, stem and root of Cyclea barbata, leaf of Morinda citrifolia, fruit and bean of Merremia mammosa, rhizome of Curcuma domesticaand C.xanthorrhiza, has been patented as a phytotherapeutical medicine for oral administration against hepatitis B and unspecific-type hepatitis (non-A, non-B), in association with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome38.


1 JEAN-PIERRE L, 1988 TRAMIL survey. St. Lucia National Herbarium, Castries, St. Lucia.

2 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

3 WHO, 1991 Pautas para la evaluación de medicamentos herbarios WHO/TRM/91.4 (original inglés). Programa de Medicina Tradicional, OMS, Ginebra, Suiza.

4 WHO, 2002 WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. Volume 1. Feb.28,2003, URL:

5 PDR® for Herbal Medicines, 2003 Feb.28,2003. URL:

6 OGBEIDE ON, EDUAVEGUAVOEN OI, PARVEZ M, 1985 Identification of 2-(hydroxymethyl) anthraquinone in Curcuma domestica. Pak J Sci 37(1/4):15-17.

7 SU HCF, HORVAT R, JILANI G, 1982 Isolation, purification, and characterization of insect repellents from Curcuma longa L. J Agric Food Chem 30:290-292.

8 OHSHIRO M, KUROYANAGI M, UENO A, 1990 Structures of sesquiterpenes from Curcuma longa. Phytochemistry 29(7):2201-2205.

9 CHEN YH, YU JG, FANG HJ, 1983 Studies on Chinese Curcuma. III. Comparison of the volatile oil and phenolic constituents from the rhizome and the tuber of Cucurma longa. Chung Yao T'ung Pao 8(1):27-29.

10 MOON CK, PARK NS, KOH SK, 1976 Studies on the lipid components of Curcuma longa. I. The composition of fatty acids and sterols. Soul Taehakkyo Yakhak Nonmunjip 1:132.

11 YASUDA K, TSUDA T, SHIMIZU H, SUGAYA A, 1988 Multiplication of Curcuma species by tissue culture. Planta Med 54(1):75-79.

12 SCHULTZ JM, HERRMANN K, 1980 Occurrence of hydroxybenzoic acids and hydroxycinnamic acid in spices. IV. Phenolics of spices. Z Lebensm-Unters Forsch 171:193-199.

13 PARK SN, BOO YC, 1991 Cell protection from damage by active oxygen with curcuminoids. Patent-Fr Demande-2,655,054.

14 TODA S, MIYASE T, ARICHI H, TANIZAWA H, TAKINO Y, 1985 Natural antioxidants. III. Antioxidative components isolated from rhizome of Curcuma longa L. Chem Pharm Bull 33(4):1725-1728.

15 JENTZSCH K, SPIEGL P, KAMITZ R, 1970 Qualitative and quantitative studies of curcuma dyes in different Zingiberaceae drugs. 2. Quantitative studies. Sci Pharm 38:50.

16 KARIG F, 1975 Rapid identification of curcuma rhizomes with the tas (thermomicroseparation and application) process. Dtsch Apoth Ztg 115:325.

17 GONDA R, TOMODA M, TAKADA K, OHARA N, SHIMIZU N, 1992 The core structure of ukonan A, a phagocytosis-activating polysaccharide from the rhizome of Curcuma longa, and immunological activities of degradation products. Chem Pharm Bull 40(4):990-993.

18 WOO WS, CHI HJ, YUN HS, WOO LK, 1977 Phytochemical screening of Korean medicinal plants (II). Korean J Pharmacog 8:103-108.

19 DE SOUSA M, Matos ME, Matos FJ, MACHADO MI, CRAVEIRO AA,1991 Constituintes químicos ativos de plantas medicinais Brasileiras.Laboratorio de produtos naturais, Fortaleza, Brasil: Ceará Edições UFC.

20 YANG M, DONG X, TANG Y, 1984 Studies of the chemical constituents of common turmeric (Curcuma longa). Chung Ts'ao Yao 15(5):197-198.

19 ZHAO DY, YANG MK, 1986 Separation and determination of cucurminoids in Curcuma longa L. and its preparation by HPLC. Yao Hsueh Pao 21(5):382-385.

22 KISO Y, SUZUKI Y, WATANABE N, OSHIMA Y, HIKINO H, 1983 Antihepatotoxic principles of Curcuma longa rhizomes. Planta Med 49(3):185-187.

23 GONDA R, TOMODA M, SHIMIZU N, KANARI M, 1990 Characterization of polysaccharides having activity on the reticuloendothelial system from the rhizome of Curcuma longa. Chem Pharm Bull Tokyo 38(2):482-486.

24 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p56.

25 SOLIS PN, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, GUPTA MP, 2004 Estudio antimicrobiano de algunas plantas TRAMIL con usos en Martinica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

26 JOYEUX M, FLEURENTIN J, DORFMAN P, MONTIER F, 1988 Recherche d'une activité hépatotrope et antiradicalaire de plantes médicinales de la caraïbe. Rapport TRAMIL. Laboratoire de pharmacognosie, Centre des Sciences pour l'Environnement, Metz, France.

27 CHANG IM, WOO WS, 1980 Screening of Korean medicinal plants for antitumor activity. Arch Pharm Res 3(2):75-78.

28 KOSUGE T, YOKOTA M, SUGIYAMA K, YAMAMOTO T, NI MY, YAN SC, 1985 Studies of antitumor activities and antitumor principles of Chinese herbs. Yakugaku Zasshi 105(8):791-795.

29 ITOKAWA H, 1988 Research on antineoplastic drugs from natural sources, especially from higher plants. Yakugaku Zasshi108(9):824-841.

30 SRIVASTAVA KC, 1989 Extracts from two frequently consumed spices cumin (Cuminum cyminum) and turmeric (Curcuma longa) inhibit platelet aggregation and alter eicosanoid biosynthesis in human blood platelets. Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids37(1):57-64.

31 DIXIT VP, JAIN P, JOSHI SC, 1988 Hypolipidaemic effects of Curcuma longa L. & Nardostachys jatamansi in triton-induced hyperlipidaemic rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 32(4):299-304.

32 DONATUS IA, SARDJOKO, VERMEULEN NPE, 1990 Cytotoxic and cytoprotective activities of curcumin. Effects on paracetamol induced cytotoxicity, lipid peroxidation and glutathione depletion in rat hepatocytes. Biochem Pharmacol 39(12):1869-1875.

33 AMMON HP, WAHL MA, 1991 Pharmacology ofCurcuma longa. Planta Med57(1):1-7.

34 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

35 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS Herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

36 KINOSHITA G, NAKAMURA F, MARUYAMA T, 1986 Immunological studies on polysaccharide fraction of crude drugs. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 40(3):325-332.

37 PINKAS M, BEZANGER-BEAUQUESNE L, 1986 Les plantes dans la thérapeutique moderne.Paris, France: 2 éd. Ed. Maloine.

38 KOSUGE T, ISHIDA H, YAMAZAKI H, 1985 Studies on active substances in the herbs used for oketsu ("stagnant blood") in Chinese medicine III. On the anticoagulative principles in curcumae rhizoma. Chem Pharm Bulll (Tokyo) 33(4):1499-1502.

39 BLANCK W,1990 Processes for the preparation of medicinal compositions, compositions obtained by these processes and use thereof for the preparation of medicines against viral hepatitis B and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. World Intellectual Property Org./U.S.Patent & Trademark Office, Bibliographic File of Published PCT Internat. Applications. Jan.1983 to Dec.1989; Prototype Jun.1990. Int. Pub. No. 8805304.

40 SONI KB, LAHIRI M, CHACKRADEO P, BHIDE SV, KUTTAN R, 1997 Protective effect of food additives on aflatoxin-induced mutagenicity and hepatocarcinogenicity. Cancer Lett 115(2):129-133.

41 AZUINE MA, KAYAL JJ, BHIDE SV, 1992 Protective role of aqueous turmeric extract against mutagenicity of direct-acting carcinogens as well as benzo [alpha] pyrene-induced genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 118(6):447-52.

42 YEGNANARAYANA M, SARAF AP, BALWANI JH, 1976 Comparison of anti-inflammatory effect of various extracts of Curcuma longa. Indian J Med Res64(4):601-608.

43 POLASA K, SESIKARAN B, KRISHNA TP, KRISHNASWAMY K, 1991 Turmeric (Curcuma longa) - induced reduction in urinary mutagens. Food Chem Toxicol 29(10):699-706.

44 QURESHI S, SHAH AH, AGEEL AM, 1992 Toxicity studies on Alpinia galanga and Curcuma longa. Planta Med 58(2):124-127.

45 VIJAYALAXMI, 1980 Genetic effect of turmeric and curcumin in mice and rats. Mut Res 79:125-132.

46 KAMBOJ VP, 1988 A review of Indian medicinal plants with interceptive activity. Indian J Med Res 4:336-355.

47 SEETHARAM KA, PASRICHA JS, 1987 Condiments and contact dermatitis of the finger-tips. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 53(6):325-328.

48 ALBORNOZ A, 1993 Medicina Tradicional Herbaria. Caracas, Venezuela: Editorial Instituto Farmacoterápico Latino S.A. p227.

49 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, 2006 Toxicidad oral subcrónica, dosis repetida, en ratón, del extracto de rizoma fresco de Curcuma longa. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.