Science Questions

Can curry reduce parasites?

Sun, 25th Mar 2007

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Angus via email asked:

In India, curry is widely consumed as a flavouring, but can curry reduce enteric parasite burden? It appears to increase bowel excretion and movement.


There was a bit of research done on this. In 2004 some people looked at coriander, the thing that you use to perk up a curry. They managed to find a molecule in there called dodecanal, which is a 12-carbon hydrocarbon with an oxygen on the end. They found that its very good at punching holes in the membrane of bugs like salmonella, so it works a bit like a detergent. Its got this long oily chain that it sticks into the membrane of the bacterium and then this water-loving bit at the other end that opens up a hole in the bugs wall. The hole allows the contents of the cell to leach out and the bug dies. So how much coriander would you need to achieve that effect? Well when they got an amount of coriander greater than the amount of curry you would eat, then you could get enough of this dodecanal to get approximately the same effect as the antibiotic gentamicin. So it can work but not at the concentration that were seeing in curries.


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