Curry spice health benefit found from curcumin in turmeric

Indian curry spice boosts immunity
Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Researchers have found a new health benefit associated with eating Indian spices; specifically from curcumin, found in turmeric. 
In the study, researchers discovered turmeric naturally boosts immunity by activating a protein in the body that helps fight infection. Curcumin has a previously unknown benefit for health.

Curcumin could protect against infection from bacteria, fungus

The study that comes from the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, shows curcumin could protect humans from bacteria, viruses and fungus.

Turmeric has been shown to have potential medicinal applications for fighting cancer, reducing pain from arthritis and neuropathy,enhancing the effect of chemotherapy in head and neck cancers, combating obesity and protecting from diabetes.

In the new study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health and included researchers from Copenhagen, the Indian spice was found to regulate expression of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP, which plays a role in immunity.

"This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression," said Adrian Gombart in a media release. Gombart is an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the Linus Pauling Institute. "It's interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies.

Gombart adds that turmeric in curcumin isn’t as potent for boosting immunity as is vitamin D. He suggests that consuming the Indian spice in low levels regularly could have health benefits that add up over time; especially for protecting the stomach and gastrointestinal tract from infection.

Chunxiao Guo, a graduate student, and Gombart looked at adding omega-3 fatty acids to curcumin for health benefits. They found no added benefit with omega-3, but the immune fighting protein CAMP was tripled with turmeric.

CAMP is also believed to protect from tuberculosis. Finding a way to curb tuberculosis has been a recent focus of researchers as resistant strains of the bacteria emerge. Turmeric, found in the Indian spice curcumin, is shown to have an added health benefit that wasn’t previously known and could help humans fight infection. You can add the spice for cooking or purchase as supplements for daily consumption.

May 25, 2012