Haridra (Curcuma longa)

हरिद्रा काच्चनी पीता निशाऽऽख्या वरवर्णिनी।

कृमिघ्नी हलदी योषित्प्रिया हट्टविलासिनी॥१९६॥

हरिद्रा कटुका तिक्ता रूक्षोष्णा कफपित्तनुत्।

वर्ण्या त्वग्दोषमेहास्रशोथपाण्डुव्रणापहा॥१९७॥

                                     हरीतक्यादिवर्गः भावप्रकाशनिघण्टु : १९६ – १९७

MRP inclusive of all taxes.

As mentioned in Bhavprakash, the Sanskrit synonyms of haridra are:

Haridra, Kanchani, Peeta, Nisha, Varvarnini, Krimighni, Haldi, Yoshitpriya and Hattvilasini.

Some of the interesting synonyms are explained below –

योषितप्रिया (Yoshitpriya) The women’s favourite. This is an indication of haridra being useful in Striroga like PCOS.

वरवर्णिनी   (Varvarnini) One with superior varna (healthy complexion). This is an indication of haridra being useful in maintaining health of the skin

Qualities of Haridra –

Haridra is katu and tikta in taste. It is ushna in quality. It is rooksha in property. It acts against kapha and pitta dosha. It is helpful in improving and strengthening complexion. Haridra is useful in skin diseases, diabetes, oedema, anaemia and wound healing.

Charak saysHaridra is lekhaneeya, kushthaghna and vishaghna



Rasa: Katu, Tikta

Guna: Ruksha

Virya: Ushna

Vipaka: Katu

Karma: Krimighna, Kushtaghna, Varnya, Vishaghna, Kaphapittanut, Pramehanashaka


Formulations of HaridraHaridrakhand


Therapeutic usesPandu, Prameha, Vrana, Vishavikara, Kushta, Tvagroga, Shitapitta, Peenasa


Active ingredient Curcumin

Pale yellow to orange-yellow volatile oil (6%) composed of a number of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, including zingiberene, curcumene, ?- and ?- turmerone among others. The colouring principles (5%) are curcuminoids, 50–60% of which are a mixture of curcumin, mono desmethoxycurcumin and bisdesmethoxycurcumin. Representative structures of curcuminoids are presented below.

harida cur

Curcumin is a diarylheptanoid, which means it is a combination of phenyl and carbon chain compounds. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce inflammation and has a potential role in cancer treatment. Curcumin has been shown to reduce the transformation, proliferation and spread of tumors and it achieves this through regulation of transcription factors, inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, protein kinases and other enzymes. Curcumin prevents proliferation by interrupting the cell cycle and inducing programmed cell death. Furthermore, curcumin can inhibit the activation of carcinogens through suppression of certain cytochrome P450 isozymes.

Wound healing (Varnya)
In a study in “Advances in experimental medicine and biology”, Curcumin was shown to have anti-inflammatory properties along with protecting effect on the skin by increased collagen deposit, angiogenesis and improved wound healing.

Anti-androgenic activity- (Yoshitpriya)
Analogues of curcumin (Active ingredient of C.longa) were studied as potential drugs to treat prostate cancer. These curcumin compounds were tested for cytotoxicity against human cancer cell lines (their ability to kill cancer cells). Along with this the “antiandrogenic”(Against androgen – male hormone) activity was also evaluated. Ten compounds out of forty were found to have potent cytotoxicity against prostate cancer cells and potent antiandrogenic activity. This study concluded that curcumin can help develop effective anti-prostate cancer drugs.
Anti-androgenic activity is also important in females in whom androgen activity has gone higher. For example – conditions such as PCOS demonstrate high androgen levels in the female body. C.longa can certainly be useful in restoring normal levels and thus controlling PCOS.

Insulin Sensitiser (Pramehanashaka)
Three Indian medicinal plants were studied for their effect on glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity. Measurement of glucose uptake in peripheral tissue is an important mechanism to access insulin sensitivity of a plant. This study was conducted to evaluate the insulin sensitising activity of Curcuma longa along with two other herbs. In this experiment, peripheral adipocytes were treated with concentrated extracts of all the three plants. The effects of plant extract on glucose uptake both in the presence and absence of insulin was evaluated and compared. These were also compared to the activity of a known insulin sensitiser (a compound that enhances the action of insulin) called pioglitazone. The results showed that C. longa stimulated glucose uptake with a maximal effect. When combined with insulin C. longa was the only herb that showed an increase in glucose uptake. The results suggested that one of the mechanisms of anti-diabetic effect of C. longa can be through insulin-sensitising activity.

Cancer – Curcumin was studied for its action on human colorectal carcinoma cells. The cancer cells were studied for their viability (survival) after administering curcumin. The results revealed that curcumin significantly inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells. Curcumin also induced apoptosis (cell death) accompanied by ultrastructural changes in existing cancer cells. It was also shown that curcumin can induce cell cycle arrest in cancer cells.

Anti-Cancer properties in head and neck cancer
Curcumin has been widely studied and evaluated across the globe for its effects in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Curcumin was studied in vivo and in vitro to determine whether it would trigger cell death of squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck. It was concluded that curcumin suppresses the growth of squamous cell carcinoma both in vitro and in vivo.


  1. Samidha Kalekar et al, Insulin sensitizing effect of 3 medicinal plants: An in vitro study, Indian Journal of Pharmacology 2013 Jan- Feb; 45(1): 30 – 33
  2. Li-da Guo et al, Curcumin inhibits Proliferation and induces apoptosis of human colorectal cancer cells by activating mitochondria apoptotic pathway, Phytotherapy research, March 2013, Vol 27, Issue 3; 422 – 430
  3. Maria M. LoTempio et al. Curcumin suppresses growth of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Clinical cancer Research 2005 ;vol 11 :6994
  4. Li Linn et al, Anti tumor Agents 250 Design and Synthesis of new Curcumin analogues as potential Anti-prostate cancer agents, J. Med. Chem., 2006, 49 (13); Pg 3963 – 3972
  5. Suryanarayana P, Satyanarayana A, Balakrishna N, Kumar P. U, Reddy G. B. Effect of turmeric and curcumin on oxidative stress and antioxidant enzymes in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat. Med Sci Monit. 2007;13:BR286–92.
  • Chapter 13, Turmeric, the Golden Spice
    Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors.


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