`Avoid turmeric during Salmonella infections`

Consumption of turmeric should be avoided during the outbreak of food-borne diseases.

Mumbai: Consumption of turmeric should be
avoided during the outbreak of food-borne diseases (Salmonella infections), according to a new study by scientists at Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Experiments conducted at IISc pointed out that Salmonella bacteria that causes typhoid and other food-borne diseases, grew three times faster when exposed to `curcumin`, the main
molecular component of turmeric.

"Our data is the first of its kind which suggests that
curcumin can increase the pathogenicity of Salmonella by
making it more robust. Hence, especially during Salmonella
infections, the consumption of curcumin should be avoided,"
PhD scholar Sandhya Marathe and Dipshikha Chakravortty,
Associate Professor, Centre for Infectious Diseases Research,
Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology at IISc, said.

The findings of the duo were carried in the latest
edition of `PLoS ONE`, a scientific journal published by US
Public Library of Science.

Turmeric is the most indispensable spice of the Indian
and Asian kitchens, "but the latest experimental data urges us
to rethink the indiscriminate use of curcumin especially
during Salmonella outbreaks, although curcumin is known for
its action against several diseases including cancer,
hypertension and Alzheimer`s, and is even sold as tablets over
the counter as panacea for all," Chakravortty said.

The scientists hypothesised that the high intake of
curcumin could be one of the reasons for the widespread
Salmonella infections in Asian countries, where typhoid kills
close to five lakh people every year.

In certain Asian communities, each person consumes an
average of 1.5 gm of turmeric a day (corresponding to
0.03-0.12 gm of curcumin), the study said.

"Curcumin activates certain genes in Salmonella, making
it more robust and increasing its resistance to its host`s
defences such as anti-microbial peptides," it said.

According to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention,
the prevalence of Salmonella infection is more in Asia, Africa
and Latin America.

Also, the prevalence of typhoid is highest in Asia. Of
2,16,000 deaths due to typhoid in the year 2000, more than 90
per cent of morbidity and mortality cases pertain this region.

Last year, Chakravortty had demonstrated the Salmonella
bacteria`s `stealthy` modus operandi to colonise its host`s
cells, dodge and finally paralyse the immune system.


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