Turmeric (Curcuma longa) attenuates food allergy symptoms by regulating type 1/type 2 helper T cells (Th1/Th2) balance in a mouse model of food allergy

J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Dec 4;175:21-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.08.038. Epub 2015 Sep 2.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has traditionally been used to treat pain, fever, allergic and inflammatory diseases such as bronchitis, arthritis, and dermatitis. In particular, turmeric and its active component, curcumin, were effective in ameliorating immune disorders including allergies. However, the effects of turmeric and curcumin have not yet been tested on food allergies.

Materials and methods: Mice were immunized with intraperitoneal ovalbumin (OVA) and alum. The mice were orally challenged with 50mg OVA, and treated with turmeric extract (100mg/kg), curcumin (3mg/kg or 30 mg/kg) for 16 days. Food allergy symptoms including decreased rectal temperature, diarrhea, and anaphylaxis were evaluated. In addition, cytokines, immunoglobulins, and mouse mast cell protease-1 (mMCP-1) were evaluated using ELISA.

Results: Turmeric significantly attenuated food allergy symptoms (decreased rectal temperature and anaphylactic response) induced by OVA, but curcumin showed weak improvement. Turmeric also inhibited IgE, IgG1, and mMCP-1 levels increased by OVA. Turmeric reduced type 2 helper cell (Th2)-related cytokines and enhanced a Th1-related cytokine. Turmeric ameliorated OVA-induced food allergy by maintaining Th1/Th2 balance. Furthermore, turmeric was confirmed anti-allergic effect through promoting Th1 responses on Th2-dominant immune responses in immunized mice.

Conclusion: Turmeric significantly ameliorated food allergic symptoms in a mouse model of food allergy. The turmeric as an anti-allergic agent showed immune regulatory effects through maintaining Th1/Th2 immune balance, whereas curcumin appeared immune suppressive effects. Therefore, we suggest that administration of turmeric including various components may be useful to ameliorate Th2-mediated allergic disorders such as food allergy, atopic dermatitis, and asthma.

Keywords: Curcumin; Food allergy; IgE; Ovalbumin; Th2; Turmeric.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Anaphylaxis / blood
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy*
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Animals
  • Chymases / blood
  • Chymases / immunology
  • Curcuma
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Food Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / drug effects*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Plant Extracts
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • turmeric extract
  • Ovalbumin
  • Chymases
  • Mcpt1 protein, mouse
  • Curcumin