Can Turmeric Also Fight Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria?
New research indicates that the ancient spice turmeric may help to mitigate the growing threat of antibiotic resistant infections that the CDC recently estimated will take 23,000 U.S. lives each year.
A new study published in the journal Molecule indicates that the ancient Indian spice turmeric may help to countermand the growing threat of bacteria that have become completely resistant to conventional antibiotics and about which health organizations like the CDC have created great public alarm by calling them ‘nightmare bacteria’ against which they admit being completely impotent.
In two previous articles titled, “CDC’s ‘Bacteria of Nightmares’: A Monstrosity Created by Outdated Theory and Practice,” and, “CDC’s ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ Reveals Need for Natural Medicine,”I describe how the rapid rise of antibiotic resistant ‘super-germs’ is a natural consequence of the now outdated germ-centric disease model (alongside the equally hoary antibiotic-centric treatment model) which not only overlooked the role of the inner terrain (e.g. microbiome, immunity, nutritional status) in determining susceptibility to infection but actively compromised and/or worsened it by relying exclusively on toxic chemical therapies which have neither the safety profile nor effectiveness of natural agents.
In the new study titled, “Curcumin Reverse Methicillin Resistance in Staphylococcus aureus,” researchers looked at the promising role the primary polyphenol in turmeric known as curcumin plays in reversing the resistance of infectious bacteria to conventional antibiotics.
The Remarkable Infection-Fighting Properties of This Golden Spice
According to the study,
“Curcumin, a natural polyphenolic flavonoid extracted from the rhizome of Curcuma longa L. [turmeric], was shown to possess superior potency to resensitize methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to antibiotics.”
MRSA is one of the many bacteria the CDC has recently termed ‘nightmare bacteria,’ insofar as the conventional armory of drugs is completely impotent to suppress. After decades of overuse, conventional antibiotics have increasingly been found ineffective at combating infectious disease; worse, the drugs actually feed the subpopulations of bacteria resistant to them by destroying the commensal bacteria that help to keep the pathogenic strains from growing out of bounds opportunistically; the net result is they come back even stronger when exposed to these patented chemical agents.
The germ theory itself is presently under reconsideration as we come to learn that our bodies are wholly dependent on bacteria for proper functioning. The microbiome –the total set of commensal bacteria our body requires for health – contains over 10 times more cells (approximately 100 trillion), and contributes up to 99% more genetic material to our holobiont (the total set of organisms that make us up) than our own entire genome. Given this fact, we can no longer look at bacteria simply as ‘the enemy,’ and must consider the unintended, adverse effects of antibiotics on the microbes that perform a wide range of indispensable health-promoting functions, e.g. producing vitamins, degrading food, detoxifying xenobiotics and heavy metals, etc, and many of which co-evolved with us for millions of years.
The new study acknowledged that in previous research curcumin has already been found to exhibit synergistic activity with β-lactam and quinolone antibiotics.[i] In order to ascertain the anti-MRSA mechanism of curcumin, the researchers observed curcumin’s interaction with S. aureus in diverse conditions, (e.g. in the presence of detergents, ATPase inhibitors), measuring penicillin binding protein (PBP2) — a protein which enables S. aureus to resist β-lactam antibiotics – as well as morphological changes in the curcumin-treated MRSA strains using transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
When human MRSA isolates were analyzed for increased susceptibility to antibiotics in the presence of curcumin (and a variety of chemical reagents, e.g. a cell membrane permeability enhancer) the researchers found significant reductions in the optical density of the curcumin-exposed strains (between 59%-94% reduction), i.e. the growth of the bacteria were inhibited. More specially,
“The TEM images of MRSA showed damage of the cell wall, disruption of the cytoplasmic contents, broken cell membrane and cell lysis after the treatment of curcumin. These data indicate a remarkable antibacterial effect of curcumin, with membrane permeability enhancers and ATPase inhibitors, and curcumin did not directly bind to PGN on the cell wall.”
The researchers concluded:
“The outcome shows that in developing natural antimicrobial agents against multidrug-resistant strains, this study on the mechanism of antimicrobial activity of curcumin may be potentially invaluable. Further, additional in vivo experiments are necessary for effective treatment.”
Tip of the Golden Iceberg
There is such an extensive dataset on curcumin that it is no wonder we would find a good bit of information on its anti-infective properties already extant on our database, which features over 1500 studies on its benefit for over 600 ailments and expressive of over 170 pharmacological actions. Briefly, curcumin (and related turmeric compounds) has been found to kill and/or inhibit the following bacteria:
It has been found to kill and/or inhibit the following viruses:
- Japanese encephalitis virus
- HIV virus
- HSV-1 virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Hepatitis C virus (all genotypes)
- Hepatitis B virus
- Rift valley fever virus
- Coxsackievirus virus
Finally, unlike most antibiotics which cause overgrowth of fungal infections, it has been found toneutralize fungal neurotoxins and to kill and/or inhibit a wide range of fungal pathogens, including:
- Erysiphe graminis, Phytophthora infestans, Puccinia recondita and Rhizoctonia solani
- Paracoccidioides brasiliensis
- Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus, Fusarium moniliforme and Penicillium digitatum
Cleary, botanicals like turmeric and its primary polyphenol curcumin have massive advantage over toxic and increasingly impotent conventional drugs for combating infection. I believe that if ancient healing spices are introduced into the practice of modern medicine, the future may be far brighter than the fearsome picture the CDC and the mainstream media paints.
[i] Mun, S.H.; Joung, D.K.; Kim, Y.S.; Kang, O.H. Synergistic antibacterial effect of curcumin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Phytomedicine 2013, 20, 714–718.
About the Author
Sayer Ji is the founder of GreenMedInfo.com, an author, educator, Steering Committee Member of the Global GMO Free Coalition (GGFC), and an advisory board member of the National Health Federation.
He founded Greenmedinfo.com in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is widely recognized as the most widely referenced health resource of its kind.
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