Curcumin, which is found in turmeric and is one of the major elements in curry powder, may be able to help treat people who have infections of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Asians have long used turmeric to treat a variety of health conditions. Turmeric also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potentially anticancer properties.
The health investigators discovered that provoking macrophages, which are human immune cells, can fight off experimentally infected cells within cultures. The infected cells have Mycobacterium TB, which causes TB bacteria to grow and spread through humans. Curcumin is able to stimulate these macrophages to fight the disease.
This process was able to activate a cellular molecule, nuclear factor-kappa B. Curcumin can modulate the immune system against Mycobacterium TB, which suggests that it could be used as a new TB treatment that wouldn’t cause as much drug-resistance as traditional methods.
"Our study has provided basic evidence that curcumin protects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in human cells," Dr. Xiyuan Bai, lead author of the study that appears in Respirology, said. "The protective role of curcumin to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis still needs confirmation, but if validated, curcumin may become a novel treatment to modulate the host immune response to overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis."