Turmeric root (Curcuma longa) is predominantly used as a spice, but has also long been known to possess antimicrobial, analgesic, antiinflammatory, and anticancer properties. One predominant group of active compounds in turmeric are curcuminoids, namely bright yellow-pigmented curcumin. While modern science has yet to fully investigate the therapeutic claims of turmeric and its derivatives, results have proven promising in decreasing pain and inflammation in arthritis, improving insulin sensitivity in diabetes, and even curing a variety of infections. The purpose of this review is to discuss the potential for curcumin as an agent against microbial infections, with a special focus on the skin and in the development of bacterial biofilms. Curcumin has demonstrated bactericidal efficacy against a variety of infections when administered with antibiotics in several clinical studies, with consistent antimicrobial activity demonstrated in vitro, as well as in urinary tract infections, gingival infections, and chronic wound infections. Hypothesized mechanisms of action include curcumin's ability to perturb bacterial membranes, disturb protofillament assembly, and even impair bacterial virulence factors. Further investigation is needed to fully understand which organisms are most susceptible to the effects of curcumin and how curcumin can be implemented in dermatology to treat skin conditions such as chronic wounds and acne vulgaris.
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