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Frequently Asked Questions About Curcumin
Q. What is curcumin?
A. Curcumin is a component of an Indian spice, turmeric. It is estimated that 100 grams of turmeric contains 3-5 gram curcumin. Curcumin gives a yellow color to turmeric, also present in curry powder. Chemically, curcumin is called diferuloylmethane. Curcumin is yellow-orange in color. Curcumin is used as a natural yellow coloring in mustard, cereals, cheese, and butter. In some countries, it is used as a natural coloring agent in the textile industry.

Q. When was curcumin isolated?
A. Curcumin was isolated from the spice turmeric, as one of the active principle, more than 100 years ago.

Q. What does curcumin do?
A. The activity of curcumin has been demonstrated against cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, arthritis etc.

Q. How does curcumin work?
A. Turmeric has been described in Ayurveda (An Ancient Indian System of Medicine; means long life) as an agent that can suppress inflammation. An extensive research during last 50 years has revealed that the anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric is due to curcumin. Curcumin can inhibit both the activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 and 5-lipooxygenase; and other enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation. Curcumin has also been shown to work through numerous other mechanisms. More than 700 genes have been shown to be modulated by curcumin.

Q. Does curcumin work against cancer?
A. Curcumin has been shown to prevent a large of number of cancers in animal studies. Laboratory data indicates that curcumin can inhibits tumor initiation, promotion, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis.

Epidemeological evidence indicate that incidence of certain cancers are less in people who consume curcumin than those who do not. Recent evidence indicates that, besides chemopreventive activity, curcumin may also be effective in the treatment of cancer.

Q. How does curcumin work against cancer?
A. Numerous mechanisms have been described for the anticancer activity of curcumin. Inhibition of proliferation of tumor cells, induction of apoptosis (a mode of cell death), inhibition of transformation of cells from normal to tumor, invasion of invasion and metastasis and suppression of inflammation, have been linked with the anticancer activity of curcumin. Downregulation of COX2, 5-LOX, adhesion molecules, inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factor receptors, VEGF, and transcription factors by curcumin have been linked to its antitumor activity.

Q. Does curcumin work against arthritis?
A. Arthritis is also a proinflammatory disease. All current drugs approved for arthritis have anti-inflammatory activity. Anti-TNF therapy has been approved for this disease. Curcumin has been shown to both suppress the TNF production as well as block the action of TNF. Curcumin, when applied topically, has been shown to have activity against arthritis.

Q. Does curcumin work against Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowl disease)?
A. Crohn’s disease is also a pro-inflammatory disease. All current drugs approved for this disease have anti-inflammatory activity. Anti-TNF therapy has been approved for this disease. Curcumin has been shown to both suppress the TNF production and the TNF action. Curcumin, taken orally, has been shown to have activity against Crohn’s disease.

Q. Does curcumin accelerate wound-healing?
A. There is numerous experimental data that suggest that curcumin can accelerate wound healing. This has lead Johnson & Johnson to supply curcumin-containing band-aid.

Q. Does curcumin work against Psoriasis?
A. Psoriasis is another proinflammatory disease. Numerous evidence, both in animal and human, indicate that curcumin is quite effective against Psoriasis when applied topically to the skin.

Q. Does curcumin work against Alzheimer disease?
A. Because Alzheimer disease is caused in part by amyloid-induced inflammation, curcumin has been shown to be effective against Alzheimer. Clinical trials are in progress in UCLA with curcumin for Alzheimer.

Q. Are there any human clinical trials done with curcumin?
A. There have been at least ten different clinical trials performed with curcumin in patients with different diseases. These are mostly pilot studies that are “proof of concept” type. More than ten trials are now in progress in the United States and other countries.

Q. Has there been any toxicity associated with curcumin?
A. According to one of the Phase I study, curcumin was found to be safe in human subjects even when consumed up to 8 grams per day for three months. Inspite of it, one is recommended to take low dose 500 mg/day to higher dose if needed gradually. Look for signs of both potential toxicity and improvement by talking to your body and to your doctor.

Recommendations for Cancer: If you have cancer, please consider curcumin for yourself as following regimen:
1 g/day for week one; if no side effects then,
2 g/day for week two; if no side effects then (can be split into three separate doses).,
4 g/day for week three; if no side effects then (can be split into three separate doses).,
8 g/day for week four; for eight weeks (can be split into three separate doses).
By then, a significant improvement is expected.

If you do not have cancer then one capsule (500 mg) per day is sufficient.

Q. How should I take curcumin?
A. There are reports to indicate curcumin taken empty stomach is more effective than with the meals. Thus it is recommended that you take curcumin 1 h before meals. If you are taking curcumin powder (instead of capsule), you can take it with milk, yogurt, coconut milk or other fluids.

Q. Where do I buy curcumin?
A. Although there are numerous companies that supply curcumin, one need to be careful that you are buying genuine product.

Uma Aggarwal; 832-563-1940 (mobile);

Also you can buy genuine Curcumin Extract from

Q. Where do I read more about it?
A. Please refer to the following articles.
Selected References

1. Chakravarti N, Myers JN, Aggarwal BB. Related Articles, Links Abstract Targeting constitutive and interleukin-6-inducible signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 pathway in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells by curcumin (diferuloylmethane). Int J Cancer. 2006 Apr 26; [Epub ahead of print]

2. Shishodia S, Sethi G, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin: getting back to the roots. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Nov;1056:206-17.

3. Garg AK, Buchholz TA, Aggarwal BB. Chemosensitization and radiosensitization of tumors by plant polyphenols. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2005 Nov-Dec;7(11-12):1630- 47.

4. Aggarwal BB, Shishodia S, Takada Y, Banerjee S, Newman RA, Bueso-Ramos CE, Price JE. Curcumin suppresses the paclitaxel-induced nuclear factor-kappaB pathway in breast cancer cells and inhibits lung metastasis of human breast cancer in nude mice. Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 15;11(20):7490-8.

5. Aggarwal S, Ichikawa H, Takada Y, Sandur SK, Shishodia S, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) down-regulates expression of cell proliferation and antiapoptotic and metastatic gene products through suppression of IkappaBalpha kinase and Akt activation. Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Jan;69(1):195-206.

6. Shishodia S, Amin HM, Lai R, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits constitutive NF-kappaB activation, induces G1/S arrest, suppresses proliferation, and induces apoptosis in mantle cell lymphoma. Biochem Pharmacol. 2005 Sep 1;70(5):700-13.

7. Siwak DR, Shishodia S, Aggarwal BB, Kurzrock R Curcumin-induced antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in melanoma cells are associated with suppression of IkappaB kinase and nuclear factor kappaB activity and are independent of the B-Raf/mitogen-activated/extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase pathway and the Akt pathway.Cancer. Aug 15;104(4):879-90.

8. Yan C, Jamaluddin MS, Aggarwal B, Myers J, Boyd DD. Gene expression profiling identifies activating transcription factor 3 as a novel contributor to the proapoptotic effect of curcumin. Mol Cancer Ther. 2005 Feb;4(2):233-41.

9. Aggarwal BB, Shishodia Suppression of the Nuclear Factor-{kappa}B Activation Pathway by Spice-Derived Phytochemicals: Reasoning for Seasoning. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1030:434-41.

10. Takada Y, Bhardwaj A, Potdar P, Aggarwal BB. Nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene. 2004 Dec 9;23(57):9247-58.

11. Dorai T, Aggarwal BB. Role of chemopreventive agents in cancer therapy. Cancer Lett. 2004 Nov 25;215(2):129-40.

12. Li L, Aggarwal BB, Shishodia S, Abbruzzese J, Kurzrock R. Nuclear factor- kappaB and IkappaB kinase are constitutively active in human pancreatic cells, and their down-regulation by curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is associated with the suppression of proliferation and the induction of apoptosis. Cancer. 2004 Nov 15;101(10):2351-62.

13. Aggarwal BB, Takada Y, Oommen OV. From chemoprevention to chemotherapy: common targets and common goals. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2004 Oct;13(10):1327-38.

14. Aggarwal, B.B., A. Kumar, and A. Bharti. Therapeutic potential of curcumin derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa), Invited review for Herbal and Traditional Medicine: Molecular Aspects of Health (ed by Lester Packer, Choon Nam Ong and Barry Halliwell); Marcel Dekker, New York; p781-812; 2004.

15. Aggarwal B. B., A. Kumer, M.S. Aggarwal, S. Shishodia, Curcumin derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa): A spice for all seasons, in Phytochemicals in Cancer Chemoprevention (ed by Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D., and Harry G. Preuss, M.D.) CRC Press

16. Aggarwal S, Takada Y, Singh S, Myers JN, Aggarwal BB. Inhibition of growth and survival of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells by curcumin via modulation of nuclear factor-kappaB signaling. Int J Cancer. 2004 Sep 20;111(5):679- 92. Erratum in: Int J Cancer. 2004 Dec 20;112(6):1086.

17. Bharti AC, Takada Y, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand-induced NF-kappa B activation in osteoclast precursors and suppresses osteoclastogenesis. J Immunol. 2004 May 15;172(10):5940- 7.

18. Bharti AC, Shishodia S, Reuben JM, Weber D, Alexanian R, Raj-Vadhan S, Estrov Z, Talpaz M, Aggarwal BB. Nuclear factor-kappaB and STAT3 are constitutively active in CD138+ cells derived from multiple myeloma patients, and suppression of these transcription factors leads to apoptosis. Blood. 2004 Apr 15;103 (8):3175-84. Epub 2003

19. Yan C, Wang H, Aggarwal B, Boyd DD. A novel homologous recombination system to study 92 kDa type IV collagenase transcription demonstrates that the NF- kappaB motif drives the transition from a repressed to an activated state of gene expression.FASEB J. 2004 Mar;18(3):540-1. Epub 2004 Jan 8.

20. Bharti AC, Donato N, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits constitutive and IL-6-inducible STAT3 phosphorylation in human multiple myeloma cells. J Immunol. 2003 Oct 1;171(7):3863-71.

21. Shishodia S, Potdar P, Gairola CG, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) down-regulates cigarette smoke-induced NF-kappaB activation through inhibition of IkappaBalpha kinase in human lung epithelial cells: correlation with suppression of COX-2, MMP-9 and cyclin D1.Carcinogenesis. 2003 Jul;24(7):1269-79. Epub 2003 May 9.

22. Aggarwal BB, Kumar A, Bharti AC. Anticancer potential of curcumin: preclinical and clinical studies. Anticancer Res. 2003 Jan-Feb;23(1A):363-98. Review.

23. Mukhopadhyay A, Banerjee S, Stafford LJ, Xia C, Liu M, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin-induced suppression of cell proliferation correlates with down-regulation of cyclin D1 expression and CDK4-mediated retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation. Oncogene. 2002 Dec 12;21(57):8852-61.

24. Bharti AC, Donato N, Singh S, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) down-regulates the constitutive activation of nuclear factor-kappa B and IkappaBalpha kinase in human multiple myeloma cells, leading to suppression of proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Blood. 2003 Feb 1;101(3):1053-62. Epub 2002 Sep 5.

25. Anto RJ, Mukhopadhyay A, Denning K, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) induces apoptosis through activation of caspase-8, BID cleavage and cytochrome c release: its suppression by ectopic expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl. Carcinogenesis. 2002 Jan;23(1):143-50.

26. Mukhopadhyay A, Bueso-Ramos C, Chatterjee D, Pantazis P, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin downregulates cell survival mechanisms in human prostate cancer cell lines. Oncogene. 2001 Nov 15;20(52):7597-609.

27. Kumar A, Dhawan S, Hardegen NJ, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin (Diferuloylmethane) inhibition of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-mediated adhesion of monocytes to endothelial cells by suppression of cell surface expression of adhesion molecules and of nuclear factor-kappaB activation. Biochem Pharmacol. 1998 Mar 15; 55(6):775-83.

28. Mehta K, Pantazis P, McQueen T, Aggarwal BB. Antiproliferative effect of curcumin (diferuloylmethane) against human breast tumor cell lines. Anticancer Drugs. 1997 Jun;8(5):470-81.

29. Singh S, Aggarwal BB. Activation of transcription factor NF-kappa B is suppressed by curcumin (diferuloylmethane) [corrected] J Biol Chem. 1995 Oct 20;270 (42):24995-5000. Erratum in: J Biol Chem 1995 Dec 15;270(50):30235.

30. Reddy S, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin is a non-competitive and selective inhibitor of phosphorylase kinase. FEBS Lett. 1994 Mar 14;341(1):19-22.