Turmeric is not only used as a spice and a colouring agent, but it is also used as an ethnomedicine in the Ayurveda since time immemorial. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) contains curcuminoids, and various sesquiterpenes which contributes towards a wide array of biological activities, e.g. anti-inflammatory, wound healing, anticancer, and antibacterial activities. Curcuminoids and sesquiterpenes are the main constituents of turmeric, for which a plethora of molecular targets, and pharmacological activities have been reported. The most studied activity of the curcuminoids present in turmeric in the recent year is the anticarcinogenic activity. Experiments have shown that curcuminoids modify the gene expression of cancer related markers. Curcumin has the potential to regulate genes related to cell division, cell cycle regulation, and apoptosis. The anticarcinogenic activity of turmeric has been studied in case of lung, breast, prostate, ovarian, colorectal cancers, leukemia, and multiple myelomas. Turmeric significantly inhibits benzopyrene induced forestomach papillomas. Dietary turmeric, along with catechin, is a chemoprotective agent. Besides anticarcinogenic effect, the antibacterial activity of turmeric against various bacteria, such as Streptococcus aureus, Trichophyton gypseum, Salmonella paratyphi, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis has also been explored. Curcuma longa rhizome extracts and oils were found to have antibacterial role against pathogenic strains of Gram +ve (Streptococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis) and Gram -ve (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium) bacteria. The active ingredients of turmeric can be used as lead compounds to design potential drugs for the treatment of different types of bacterial diseases and cancers.
Keywords: Turmeric, Curcuminoids, Antibacterial, Anticarcinogenic, Ayurveda, Spice.