Can Turmeric Prevent and Treat Malaria?
Studies suggest that turmeric has potent insect repellent properties against mosquitoes, including those that carry Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. In addition, some of turmeric's compounds block P. falciparum's growth and activity, suggesting turmeric could help treat people already infected with the malaria parasite. (v.6)
How Do People Get Malaria?
Malaria is caused by blood parasites transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Although other species of Plasmodium cause malaria too, P. falciparum is the most common parasite that causes the disease in humans. It is also the species that can cause the most severe, potentially fatal form of malaria. (v.137)
Symptoms of Malaria
Malaria can be difficult to diagnose in people who don't live in tropical/subtropical areas. This is because symptoms are so common to other illnesses. They include: (v.137)
- Aches and pains
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
How Might Turmeric Help?
In the lab, turmeric's curcumin compound blocked growth of the parasite P. falciparum that causes malaria. Importantly, the type of P. falciparum curcumin was tested on was the drug-resistant variety. This suggests curcumin could help treat cases of malaria that don't respond to chloroquine treatment. (v.6)
Lab studies suggest that other compounds in turmeric can help prevent malaria too:
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