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Volume 2012, Article ID 757890, 13 pages
Review Article

A Neutraceutical by Design: The Clinical Application of Curcumin in Colonic Inflammation and Cancer

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1M9, Canada

Received 10 July 2012; Accepted 26 August 2012

Academic Editors: A. Asai and W. Vogel

Copyright © 2012 D. Soni and B. Salh. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Unquestionably, the natural food additive curcumin, derived from the colorful spice turmeric used in many Asian cuisines, possesses a diverse array of biological activities. These range from its anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, and metabolic modifying properties to surprising roles in disorders ranging from Alzheimer's disease to cystic fibrosis. Its effects on growth factor receptors, signaling molecules, and transcription factors, together with its epigenetic effects are widely considered to be extraordinary. These pleiotropic attributes, coupled with its safety even when used orally at well over 10 g/day, are unparalleled amongst pharmacological agents. However, there is one drawback; apart from the luminal gastrointestinal tract where its pharmacology predicts that reasonable drug levels can be attained, its broader use is hampered by its poor solubility and hence near undetectable plasma levels. Medicinal chemistry and nanotechnology have resulted in the generation of compounds where the modified drug or its delivery system has improved matters such that this shortcoming has been addressed to some extent, with the surprising finding that it remains safe to use. It is predicted that either the parental compound or its derivatives may eventually find a place in the therapeutic management protocols of several conditions.