Tags: curry | immune | curcumin

Curry Fires up Immune System

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 11:47 AM

Curry dishes fire up more than just your taste buds. New research at Oregon State University has discovered that curcumin -- a compound found in the cooking spice turmeric -- can increase levels of a protein that boosts the immune system’s innate ability to prevent infection.
The so-called CAMP protein – short for cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide – boosts the body’s capacity for fighting off various new bacteria, viruses or fungi.
The new findings on curry’s effects on CAMP levels, which are also increased by vitamin D, could open the door to new therapeutic strategies involving both nutrition and pharmacology, scientists said.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and funded by the National Institutes of Health, was conducted by researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
"This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression," said Adrian Gombart, 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."
Turmeric is an orange-yellow spice and a key ingredient in many curries found in Indian, South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It has also been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in India. In recent years, scientific studies have found curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
"Curcumin, as part of turmeric, is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels," Gombart said. "However, it's possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract."
For the new study, Gombart and colleagues examined the effects of both curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids on the CAMP gene. While they found omega-3 fatty acids had no impact, curcumin caused levels of CAMP to almost triple.
Researchers said the CAMP peptide is the only known antimicrobial agent of its type in humans, and it appears to have the ability to kill a broad range of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis and blood poisoning.

© HealthDay

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Curcumin, found in the cooking spice turmeric, boosts the immune system's ability to fight infections.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 11:47 AM
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