The chemical in turmeric that gives the root its distinctive yellow color and spicy, bitter flavor may also help treat drug-resistant tuberculosis, according to a new study published in Respirology.
Tuberculosis (TB) that’s resistant to most antibiotics can be dangerous and difficult to treat. The disease is caused by an airborne bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), that typically attacks the lungs, but can also harm the brain, kidneys, and spine. For most of recent history, TB was successfully treated with antibiotics; but as antibiotic resistance spreads, some strains of TB bacteria may also develop resistance to drugs.
Finding new pathways of treatment for drug-resistant TB (as well as any other antibiotic-resistant bacteria), then, is quite critical. “With the worldwide emergence of highly drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), novel agents that have direct antimycobacterial effects or that enhance host immunity are urgently needed,” the authors write in the paper. They note that their results showed that curcumin stimulates the immune system as “a potent inducer of apoptosis — an effector mechanism used by macrophages to kill intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis.”