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“Haridre thu hithe khyathe thabhyam naasthi samam kwachith” (Shodhala Nighantu). This is a famous Sloka in the Shodhala Nighantu describing haridra, which is nothing but turmeric. Shodhala Nighantu was written by Shodhala in the 12th century AD. Nighantus can be considered as the Ayurvedic form of materia medica and many of the works were written from the very beginning of the Ayurvedic period. Shodhala Nighantu discusses the properties of 26 groups of medicinal plants and haridra was described as a unique herb with priceless medicinal properties. This clearly indicates that the potency of turmeric has been known since ancient times. Turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn), a herb which belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, is a spice of high economic importance due to its wide range of medicinal values and therapeutic potential. Turmeric powder has been used extensively since ancient times as a coloring, flavoring and preserving agent in curries and in cosmetics. Turmeric has traditionally been used for medical purposes for many centuries in different countries, particularly in India for improving digestion, improving intestinal flora, eliminating worms, relieving flatulence, cleansing and strengthening the liver and gallbladder, regulating menstruation, relieving arthritis and swelling and purifying the blood. Turmeric is one of the most popular medicinal herbs, with a wide range of pharmacological properties such as antioxidant, antiprotozoal, antivenom, antimicrobial, antimalarial, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiproliferative, antidiabetic, anti-Alzheimer's, anti-aging and anti-tumor agents. It has also been used to treat ulcers, parasitic infections, various skin diseases, anti-immune diseases and cure the symptoms of colds and flu. In recent years, several drugs derived from natural products have been developed and current drug research is actively investigating the possible therapeutic roles of many Ayurvedic and traditional medicinal remedies and turmeric is one among them. The biological activities of turmeric have been attributed mainly to curcuminoids consisting of curcumin and two related compounds, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The World Health Organization stated that the acceptable daily intake of curcuminoids as a food additive is in the range of 0–3 mg kg−1. Curcuminoids and turmeric products have been characterized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration in the USA. Curcuminoids have achieved potential therapeutic interest to cure immune-related, metabolic diseases and cancer due to a vast number of biological targets and virtually no side effects, but very limited studies were reported for molecules other than curcuminoids and most of these molecules are equally potent as curcuminoids.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of turmeric, including an Ayurvedic and historical background, geographical variations, chemistry of turmeric, biological activities of turmeric, various drug delivery formulations for curcumin delivery, applications in nutraceutical, functional foods and value-added products, molecular docking and metabolic activities of curcumin, economics and marketing, toxicology aspects of turmeric, etc. This book also highlights the chemistry and biological activities of bioactive molecules other than curcuminoids in turmeric. Moreover, the great number of books already published on the subject do not combine details regarding the various compounds in turmeric. However, unlike them, this book takes a leap ahead, presenting a unique, comprehensive discussion relating to all of the therapeutically active compounds of this golden herb.

The book comprises 16 chapters, each written by experts in their respective field and each chapter having an exhaustive bibliography. The editors tried to collect and organize as much information as possible about turmeric in this book and would like to express their gratitude to the various authors of each chapter for their tremendous efforts. This book is directed at scientists, researchers and clinicians working in the areas of experimental and molecular medicine, Ayurveda and herbal medicine and general biomedical sciences. We hope that this book will be precious to all those who are involved in the production, processing, marketing and use of turmeric.

Sreeraj Gopi

Sabu Thomas

Ajaikumar B. Kunnumakkara

Bharat B. Aggarwal

Augustine Amalraj

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