An ancient cousin root of the ginger family has gained popularity in recent years because of its health benefits. Turmeric, which has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries, may help fight drug-resistant Tuberculosis (TB), a new study found.

Researchers from the University of Colorado, Denver, found that curcumin, an ingredient found in turmeric, was able to successfully remove Mycobacterium tuberculosis from infected cultured cells. This pathogen is the causative agent of tuberculosis, which has been dubbed as the top infectious disease killer worldwide.

Turmeric's Potent Curcumin Could Fight Tuberculosis

Turmeric has been used for centuries, and in Asia, it was used to treat many diseases because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Specifically, curcumin has been linked to many health benefits since it works by reducing inflammation, relieving pain, reducing blood clots and detoxifying the body.

The researchers found that curcumin triggered the body's immune cells, macrophages, to remove the bacteria responsible in infecting people with Tuberculosis. The team used experimentally-infected cells in culture.

"Our study has provided basic evidence that curcumin protects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in human cells," Dr. Xiyuan Bai from the University of Colorado, Denver, said in a statement.  

Curcumin, which is the main ingredient in curry powder, inhibited the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B, a cellular molecule. The ability of this ingredient in triggering an important immune response against Myobacterium tuberculosis, could help develop new treatments that are less likely to lead to drug resistance.

"Curcumin protects against MTB infection in human macrophages. The host-protective role of curcumin against MTB in macrophages needs confirmation in an animal model; if validated, the immunomodulatory anti-TB effects of curcumin would be less prone to drug resistance development," the researchers concluded.

Tuberculosis By The Numbers

Tuberculosis is a highly-infectious bacterial lung disease. The disease infected 9.6 million people in 2014, with 1.5 million deaths linked to the lung infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 95 percent of deaths linked to TB are from low-and middle-income countries. One of the problems health agencies are facing today is the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). In 2014, about 480,000 people developed drug-resistant TB, which is very hard to treat. 

Photo: Steven Jackson | Flickr 

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.