CiteScore: 1.5     h-index: 24

Document Type : Review Article


1 Faculty of Science and Technology, Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia

2 Generasi Biologi Indonesia Foundation, Gresik, Indonesia

3 Division of Research and Development, CV Jalan Tengah, Pasuruan, Indonesia

4 Postgraduate School, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia

5 Uttaranchal Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun, India

6 Master Program of Biology, Universitas Islam Negeri Maulana Malik Ibrahim, Malang, Indonesia

7 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Technology and Education, Universitas Muhammadiyah Lamongan, Lamongan, Indonesia

8 Department of Biology Education, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Mulawarman University, Samarinda, Indonesia

9 Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Mulawarman University, Samarinda, Indonesia

10 Department of Scientific Research, V. M. Gorbatov Federal Research Center for Food Systems, Moscow, Russian Federation

11 Department of Scientific Research, Ural State Agrarian University, Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation

12 School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, IPB University, Bogor, Indonesia

13 Research Center for Veterinary Science, National Research and Innovation Agency, Bogor, Indonesia

14 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Negeri Padang, Padang, Indonesia

15 Center for Advanced Material Processing, Artificial Intelligence, and Biophysic Informatics (CAMPBIOTICS), Universitas Negeri Padang, Padang, Indonesia


This review discusses the antimicrobial potential of Curcuma longa, a plant traditionally recognized for its medicinal properties. The emerging concern over antimicrobial resistance, coupled with the adverse effects of synthetic drugs, necessitates an exploration of plant-based natural antimicrobials. Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, provides a compelling case with its broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. The review first delves into the phytochemical composition of Curcuma longa, focusing on its primary bioactive compounds, the curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most prominent. These compounds, along with essential oils and polysaccharides, contribute significantly to the antimicrobial properties of the plant.

Graphical Abstract

A Mini Review of Curcuma longa: Antimicrobial Properties



Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, is a perennial plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, native to Southeast Asia. It has been extensively used in traditional medicine for centuries, owing to its wide array of medicinal properties. The rhizome of the plant, recognized by its bright yellow colour, serves not only as a culinary spice, but also as a therapeutic agent in various traditional medicine systems [1, 2].

In recent years, the scientific community has shown growing interest in the potential health benefits of Curcuma longa. It has been studied for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties. One area that has garnered significant attention is the antimicrobial properties of Curcuma longa. In the age of increasing antimicrobial resistance, identifying new antimicrobial agents is of utmost importance, and Curcuma longa presents a compelling case as a potential natural source [3, 4]. This review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the antimicrobial properties of Curcuma longa.

It delves into the rich phytochemical composition of the plant, highlighting the primary active compounds responsible for its antimicrobial activity. It further discusses the broad spectrum of its antimicrobial activity against various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites [5, 6].

Understanding the mechanisms of action is key to harnessing the antimicrobial potential of Curcuma longa; hence, the review also focuses on elucidating the various strategies deployed by its bioactive compounds against microorganisms. These include, but are not limited to, disruption of microbial cell structures, inhibition of microbial enzymes, and modulation of the immune responses of the host [7, 8].

Finally, the review explores potential applications of Curcuma longa in different sectors, including pharmaceuticals, food preservation, agriculture, and animal health. It also touches on the challenges to be addressed for the effective utilization of this plant as a natural antimicrobial agent [9, 10]. Through this review, it is hoped to shed light on the untapped potential of Curcuma longa in the field of antimicrobial research and inspire further investigations into this promising plant.

Phytochemical composition of curcuma longa

Curcuma longa, known for its vibrant yellow colour, owes its distinctiveness and medicinal value to its rich phytochemical composition.

The plant's phytochemical profile is diverse and complex, composed primarily of curcuminoids, volatile oils, polysaccharides, and other secondary metabolites, each of which contributes to its health-promoting properties [11, 12]. Curcuminoids, a group of phenolic compounds, are the most prominent active constituents of Curcuma longa. The major curcuminoids include curcumin (Figure 1), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin, with curcumin being the most abundant and biologically active. It is this compound that imparts the characteristic yellow colour to the plant and is largely responsible for its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities [13, 14].

Figure 1: Structure of curcumin

In addition to curcuminoids, volatile oils contribute significantly to the bioactivity of Curcuma longa. These oils consist of a variety of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes such as turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene. These aromatic compounds not only contribute to the distinct aroma and taste of turmeric, but also have been reported to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties [15, 16]. Polysaccharides are another group of compounds found in Curcuma longa. These complex carbohydrates often referred to as turmeric's "ukonan" fractions, have shown promising immune-stimulatory effects. The polysaccharides have been found to activate macrophages and other immune cells, contributing to the host's immune response to pathogens [17, 18]. Lastly, Curcuma longa contains other secondary metabolites, such as sterols, fatty acids, and sugars, which further enhance its medicinal properties. Among these, the presence of various flavonoids and alkaloids has been noted, many of which contribute to the plant's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. Collectively, the broad spectrum of phytochemicals present in Curcuma longa make it a plant of significant pharmacological interest. Further studies may uncover additional compounds and reveal a more detailed understanding of the interactions among these compounds that result in the broad medicinal benefits of this plant [19, 20].

Antimicrobial activity of curcuma longa

Extensive research has been conducted to ascertain the antimicrobial potential of Curcuma longa. Its antimicrobial activities have been tested against a diverse range of microorganisms, both in vitro and in vivo, providing ample evidence to affirm its robust antimicrobial potency. The antibacterial action of Curcuma longa is profound and broad-spectrum. It has been shown to be effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Helicobacter pylori. In particular, the curcumin component appears to disrupt bacterial cell walls and interfere with the synthesis of bacterial proteins and DNA, hence leading to bacterial cell death. Moreover, Curcuma longa has exhibited potential in combating multidrug-resistant bacterial strains, highlighting its possible utility as an alternative to conventional antibiotics [21, 22].

Regarding its antiviral activity, Curcuma longa and its derivatives have been investigated against various viruses, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza virus, hepatitis C virus, and Zika virus. Curcumin has demonstrated potential to interfere with the replication cycle of these viruses, proving beneficial in viral suppression. Furthermore, Curcuma longa's antifungal activity, exhibited against fungal species such as Candida albicans and Aspergillus flavus, adds to its antimicrobial repertoire. Finally, preliminary studies indicate an antiparasitic effect of Curcuma longa, seen particularly against protozoan parasites like Plasmodium and Leishmania species. However, more research is needed to understand the exact mechanism and potential uses in antiparasitic therapy [23, 24].


Mechanisms of antimicrobial action

The antimicrobial potency of Curcuma longa can be attributed to a complex interplay of mechanisms orchestrated by its bioactive constituents, mainly curcuminoids and essential oils. These mechanisms range from disrupting microbial cell structures to inhibiting essential microbial enzymes, and even modulating host immune responses [25, 26]. The most notable antibacterial mechanism of Curcuma longa is the disruption of bacterial cell membrane integrity. Curcumin and its related compounds have lipophilic properties that allow them to interact with the bacterial cell membrane. This interaction alters the fluidity and permeability of the membrane, eventually leading to leakage of cellular contents and cell death. Moreover, curcuminoids can interfere with the formation of bacterial biofilms, complex structures that protect bacteria from antimicrobial agents and the host immune system [27, 28]. Aside from structural disruption, Curcuma longa constituents can inhibit key microbial enzymes. For instance, some studies indicate that curcumin inhibits the bacterial DNA gyrase, an enzyme crucial for DNA replication and transcription in bacteria. By inhibiting this enzyme, curcumin prevents bacterial proliferation. Similarly, Curcuma longa has been found to inhibit certain viral enzymes like HIV-1 integrase and protease, crucial for the viral replication. Curcuma longa has also been shown to modulate the host immune system to enhance antimicrobial defences. Curcumin can regulate various signalling molecules involved in inflammation, such as cytokines, transcription factors, and enzymes, which can help the innate immune response of the body in clearing the pathogen. In addition, curcumin has antioxidant properties that can protect host cells from damage by microbial toxins [29, 30]. In terms of antifungal and antiparasitic action, Curcuma longa seems to disrupt the integrity of fungal cell walls and interfere with the energy metabolism of parasites, leading to their death. However, these mechanisms are not fully understood and warrant further investigation. The multi-targeted approach of Curcuma longa

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