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The Limitless Possibilities of Turmeric

Introduction

Turmeric is a prevalent spice used in numerous countries around the world due to the various properties and benefits it is known for. The plant from which the spice is derived, Curcuma Longa, is widely grown and used in Asian countries including India and China, where it originated more than 4000 years ago, and was harvested for its apparent spiritual connection in several cultures. Almost all of the globe’s turmeric is collected from India, and India consumes about 80% of it. The rhizomes of these plants are cultivated and used to create the well-known orange turmeric powder through a drying process, and subsequent grounding of the dry rhizome. Turmeric has been shown to provide herbal benefits, including aid for arthritis, skin cancer, wound healing, and chicken pox, to name a few. Additionally, turmeric has been used for other therapeutic practices in different parts of the world. For example, numerous South Asian countries utilize turmeric to heal wounds and improve digestion. Turmeric paste has even been applied to the skin in Indian marriages due to its prestige of being an antibacterial agent.


Although turmeric has been thoroughly researched in terms of its numerous properties and uses, its molecular composition has had little in-depth research on the specific role each of the molecules composing turmeric has on the spice’s properties. This

literature review aims to answer the underlying question of how the curcuminoids involved in turmeric’s properties affect the production of turmeric’s well-known pharmaceutical, , culinary, and cosmetic uses. Several underlying properties of curcumin aren’t thoroughly researched, so this article aims to uncover which properties of turmeric are unknown to the majority of researchers. The curcuminoids within turmeric are naturally occurring antioxidants and the main reason for turmeric’s extensive usage and production worldwide. These molecules have such potency that they are utilized in not only turmeric powder but other substances and amenities as well.


Medicinal

The primary use of turmeric in several locations across the globe is its medicinal and therapeutic use. This key application of the spice leads to the numerous other uses that will be gone over in this review. The primary way that turmeric can produce these results is due to a molecule called curcumin, and its pleiotropic effects, which are all of a drug's actions other than those for which the agent was specifically developed. Curcumin (also called diferuloylmethane) can regulate several molecules/enzymes that have a role in inflammation and cancer, allowing the molecule to prevent such issues from arising. This property allows curcumin to prevent several inflammatory and cancerous diseases, a few being asthma, respiratory diseases, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung cancer. Several articles have differing results for curcumin's use to prevent pulmonary diseases in several research articles, but extensive research is currently being conducted to affirm the efficacy of curcumin in providing such benefits. Pulmonary diseases involve swelling/inflammation of the respiratory system. The majority of the properties derived from curcumin and turmeric have been discovered in only the past three decades, due to the recency of the subject regarding the specifics of turmeric’s uses. Curcumin can regulate several molecules/enzymes that have a role in inflammation and cancer, allowing the molecule to prevent such issues from arising. The molecule of curcumin within turmeric has been shown to modulate several factors contributing to disease within the body, which is the main reason for its ability to provide aid to several inflammatory diseases. This property allows curcumin to prevent several inflammatory and cancerous diseases, a few being asthma, respiratory diseases, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung cancer. The molecule does this by binding to proteins that allow cancerous or harmful cells to survive, which in turn decreases their survival rate, and decreases the possible harmful effects these may have on the body. This is also due to the gene regulation capabilities of curcumin, allowing the molecule to produce carcinogenic benefits by controlling the invasion and metastasis of cells within the body. The reason for curcumin's use in a medicinal context is due to its capacity to regulate several factors in the body that are the main reasons for diseases that may have arisen from such factors. Some examples of molecular targets that curcumin can control are enzymes, receptors, proteins, inflammatory agents, transcription factors, and several more. Curcumin's interactions with cell survival proteins are the driving force behind many of curcumin's health benefits. There is some research being done on the possible interactions between curcumin and micro RNA, which have a role in key mechanisms behind cell growth and survival. There isn't conclusive evidence for curcumin's ability to regulate the suppression of cell tumor growth and cell invasion, but promising results suggest the anti-cancerous benefits of the curcumin molecule. One problem with the testing and use of curcumin in turmeric is the poor bioavailability of curcumin. One way that is being researched to solve this problem is through the use of technologies currently being developed. For example, adjuvant, nanoparticles, liposomes, micelles, and phospholipid complexes. These technologies would be highly beneficial to the use of curcumin and turmeric as medicinal products because they work best when taken in high doses. Curcumin is known as a polyphenol, which is a naturally occurring phenol, including flavonoids, tannic acid, and more. These are substances known for their extremely healthy benefits to the body as a supplement, often found in plants. Curcumin and its variations have shown great promise in being an anti-viral agent. They have shown that curcumin has been able to manage the spread of the influenza virus in the human body, through the intervention of key proteins required for the virus to be potent. This property of curcumin can be utilized in numerous viral diseases, some examples being COVID-19, AIDS, HIV, and many more. This information is very useful because it opens several gateways for scientists to utilize curcumin's effects to create environmentally friendly and healthy medicinal drugs.

Section 3 Agricultural Uses


Culinary Uses

The application of curcumin as a useful substance to be used in preserving meat products. Curcumin may be able to sustain meat quality and improve the shelf life of meats. Curcumin and turmeric are well known for their culinary usage in several cultures, often used in India as a spice and constituent of curry powder. Additionally, in the US, it is used as a food additive to various food products. Since meat products often harvest a desirable environment for bacteria and fungal activity, turmeric has the potential to be used to prevent this due to its anti-bacterial affinity. This antibacterial capability of turmeric is largely due to its constituent molecules, the main one being curcumin. On several tests on turmeric, it can remove or treat bacterial infections and has overall shown anti-bacterial activity through the use of turmeric extracts. Curcumin can do this because of its innate effectiveness in forming hydrogen bonds with bacterial cells and the organelles within them, allowing curcumin to disrupt the bacteria's processes. A few examples of bacteria that turmeric was shown to be effective against are Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli. This information is extremely useful in the culinary field, to ensure that food products aren't consumed by bacterial activity within them, and to ensure the preservation of food products for an extended period. In addition, research has shown that even at high doses, curcumin and turmeric are still safe and effective to use, making them an important and useful addition to foods. Apart from how the pharmaceutical benefits of turmeric provide evidence for its use as a food preserver, there is the possibility of turmeric’s use as a coloring agent in foods. This is mainly due to curcumin as well, since the curcumin molecule is the main reason for turmeric’s bright yellow color. In several industries, curcumin within turmeric has been used as a natural coloring agent in foods such as mustard, dairy products, pastries, soups, sauces, gravies, fish, and cereals. Although this is an excellent alternative to current food coloring agents, turmeric has a sensitivity to light exposure and heat exposure, which affects how turmeric can be used as a long-term food additive.


Cosmetic Uses

Some key characteristic of curcumin is that it is insoluble in water, and generally has an acidic to neutral pH. As corroborated by previous articles, curcumin has very low bioavailability, which makes it difficult for scientists to study and use curcumin and turmeric for their extensive health benefits. Other than turmeric's health benefits, it has great cultural significance. It is often applied as a paste to the bride and groom after an Indian wedding, and to their full body before the wedding. It is also used as an anti-bacterial agent and is applied to the severed umbilical cord to prevent bacterial infections in India. Furthermore, in several countries, turmeric is known for its reputation for bringing prosperity and health. In the cosmetic field, turmeric is often used in religious settings, such as temples or mosques. Furthermore, turmeric has great potential to be used in the cosmetological field. Some evidence suggests that turmeric can provide dermatological effects, meaning it can be used as a facial cosmetic if applied/used properly. Since turmeric has several pharmaceutical benefits, it brings these to the cosmetological field as well, being able to be used as a healthy additive to cosmetic products as well. Some evidence indicates that turmeric when added to moisturizers, can lighten skin and prevent lipids on the skin. Also, a gel made using curcumin has shown evidence of promoting apoptosis of cells with DNA damage, which is agreed upon by many sources. Currently, there is research being done to determine the efficacy of curcumin as a hair coloring agent, and there is potential. These uses would be impactful to the cosmetic industry, due to the positive effect adding curcumin would have on cosmetics in general. Also, turmeric being an environmentally friendly substance adds to the list of benefits turmeric has when added to a cosmetic. Adding onto the possibilities of turmeric as a cosmetic additive, turmeric has shown extensive dermatological benefits. A test was done using curcuminoids found in turmeric to discover the potential of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory addition to cosmetics, and the toleration of the curcuminoids of turmeric within patients was done using proper experimental procedures (randomized double-blind placebo, controlled trial). The results were that turmeric was well administered and received by the patients, which is crucial information to know if turmeric can be used as a cosmetic.


Conclusion

Overall, turmeric has shown great efficacy as an antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and antiviral agent. It is important because it allows scientists and researchers to look into how spice can be used in the cosmetic field as an environmentally friendly and incredibly beneficial additive to cosmetic products.



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