Curcumin is a natural yellow pigment that occurs in the turmeric root and is responsible for its characteristic color. It belongs to the curcuminoid family and is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. The molecule has long been known in Ayurvedic medicine and is also used today as a dietary supplementor used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Where does the molecule occur?

The vital substance is found in the turmeric root, which is mainly cultivated in India and other South Asian countries. Turmeric is an important component of Indian cuisine and is used as a spice and colorant. Curcumin can also be found in other plants, such as ginger and galangal, in lower concentrations. Another vital substance that comes from the same region is ashwagandha, for example.

What is the function of curcumin in the human body?

Curcumin has numerous positive effects on the human body. It acts as an antioxidant and can scavenge free radicals that can damage cells and cause inflammation. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Because of its protective effect with regard to inflammation, the molecule may help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Curcumin may also promote the production of neurotransmitters, helping to improve cognitive function. It is also believed that the vital substance may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia, as it can reduce the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

What are the benefits of supplementing with curcumin?

Supplementing with curcumin can provide numerous benefits. It can inhibit inflammation and act as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radical damage, as well as playing a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. There is also evidence that the molecule can improve brain function and help with depression. However, its bioavailability is low, so it needs to be taken in higher doses or in special formulations to be effective. You can find out more about this topic in our article on absorption pathways.

There is also evidence in cell cultures that the active ingredient in turmeric can curb the growth of cancer cells and slow down cell aging. Initial studies have shown that the molecule can even contribute to the destruction of cancer cells. This is achieved by influencing various signaling pathways in the cells, thereby triggering cell death. However, conclusive clinical studies are still lacking to confirm this anti-cancer effect in practice.

Curcumin & Longevity

Curcumin, a compound found in the spice turmeric, has been studied for its potential to extend lifespan. Studies in various model organisms have shown that curcumin supplementation can increase longevity. In clinical studies, curcumin has been shown to reduce the risk and impact of many chronic, age-related diseases. It is also believed to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, two factors that influence the so-called Hallmarks of Aging.

Studies carried out on fruit flies, threadworms and mice have shown that taking curcumin can increase life expectancy. In an animal study from 2013, curcumin was found to increase life expectancy by an average of 26 percent. Curcumin has also been shown to delay replicative ageing in yeast cells and chronological ageing in Caenorhabditis elegans worms.


Curcumin is a promising molecule with many positive properties. It can act as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may have positive effects on the cardiovascular system and the prevention of cancer. Supplementation can therefore be helpful for various conditions. However, it is important to note that its bioavailability is limited and it therefore needs to be taken in higher doses or in a processed form to be fully effective.