Tag Archives: curcumin

COVIDS 19: Drugs vs Food and Supplements, Part II

Today we discuss the many ways curcumin might defend us against COVID-19.

A Google Scholar Search for  “curcumin and virus” will yield over 43,000 results.

Narrow that down to a search for  “curcumin and corona virus” and you will get 1500 results.

Here is a picture of the many ways curcumin has been shown to interfere with various kinds of viruses:

curcumin anti viral multiple effects

This review article discusses (in-vitro and animal in-vivo) studies that show the following targets for curcumin interfering with one or more kinds of viruses:

  1. viral attachment to the cell
  2. viral penetration of the cell
  3. viral replication inside the cell
  4. viral activation of inflammatory genes
  5. direct anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin

Blocking any one or combination of steps 1 through 4 would attenuate damage to the host (us) by limiting spread and replication of the virus within our body (steps 1-3) and by limiting the virus ability to induce inflammatory damage (steps 4 and 5). From the review article:

“Accumulated evidence indicated curcumin plays an inhibitory role against infection of numerous viruses. These mechanisms involve either a direct interference of viral replication machinery or suppression of cellular signaling pathways essential for viral replication, such as PI3K/Akt, NF-κB.”

Curcumin has been studied and found to be effective in vitro against:

  • COVID-19
  • HIV
  •  Hepatitis C virus
  •  Respiratory Syncytial Virus
  •  Hemorrhagic Fever
  •  Rift Valley Fever
  •  Dengue Virus
  •  Japanese Encephalitis
  • Epstein Barr Virus
  •  Human Papilloma Virus
  •  Coxsackie Virus

Links to articles related to all of these viruses appear below.

The multiple anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin (blocking chemical and gene signaling pathways of inflammation) would be expected to help mitigate the frequently lethal cytokine storm. 

A cytokine storm occurs when an excessive inflammatory response by the immune system causes self-destruction of the human host, mediated by chemicals called cytokines, produced by our immune cells. Although the human body has feedback systems designed to regulate our immune response, those systems do not always work adequately. The result can be severe organ damage and eventually death. This often begins in the lungs, presenting as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome or ARDS but then spreads to other organs creating multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (also referred to as multi-organ failure).

Of all the phytochemicals derived from our foods and spices, curcumin is arguably the most studied relative to a variety of disease categories.


.curcumin clinical studies

Here we are interested in Corona Viruses (in general, since they share many commonalities) and COVID 19 in particular.

In my last post I presented data on how strongly EGCg, quercitin, curcumin, and other phytochemicals bind to the COVID-19 spike protein, which attaches to the ACE-2 receptor on human cells as the first step in gaining entry into the cell. EGCg in one study had the greatest binding strength, exceeding that of both Remdesivir and Chloroquine (prescription drugs now being studied for COVID-19). CURCUMIN was second only to EGCg in binding strength in that study.

By attaching to the spike protein on the outer membrane of the virus, it prevents the virus from attaching (or docking) to the human cell, thus blocking the first step of entry into the cell. The virus must enter the cell to replicate, no entry = no replication = no infection.

In studies of the Influenza A virus (IAV) in mice:

“The results showed that curcumin could directly inactivate IAV, blocked IAV adsorption and inhibited IAV proliferation.”

Curcumin worked through several mechanisms, blocking not only viral entry and replication but also reducing  oxidative stress (which contributes to cytokine storm). It increased the survival rate of mice, reduced levels of virus and inflammatory cytokines in the lungs, and reduced lung injury.

Curcumin had similar effects against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in human nasal epithelial cells (the same place that COVID-19 first strikes).

curcumin inhibits RSV in human nasal cells

The red lines show the many places curcumin was found to interfere with the RSV infection of human nasal (nose) cells.

Their have been multiple studies that have demonstrated that curcumin (and other phytochemicals) specifically interfere with the docking/binding of COVID-19 by binding to and therefore disabling the effects of, the crucial Spike Protein.

In fact  this study demonstrated that Curcumin and Catechin (EGCg mentioned in the last post) bind not only to the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus, but they also bind to the ACE-2 receptor on the cell surface that receives the virus (like a lock and key), blocking both the lock and the key.

 “Here, through computational approaches we have reported two polyphenols, Catechin and Curcumin which have dual binding affinity i.e both the molecule binds to viral S-protein and as well as ACE2.”

curcumin AND catechin bind COVID19 S protein and ACE-2

In my series of posts on COVID-19 I have discussed the importance of Vitamin D3, zinc, zinc ionophores (such as quercetin and EGCg), Curcumin, and other phytochemicals.  The authors of  this article present multiple lines of evidence and study supporting the notion that supplementation with Vitamin D3, Curcumin and Vitamin C in combination would be beneficial in fighting COVID-19.

Curcumin has a very low absorption rate in the gut. Used as a spice with food, any form of fat in the meal will enhance the absorption of turmeric and it’s phytochemical curcumin (which includes various curcuminoids). Various supplement forms add other substances or encapsulate the curcumin in a manner that increases the absorption rate. Some preparations add Piperine, a black pepper extract. Piperine increases intestinal permeability, thereby enhancing absorption of curcumin. Meriva is a licensed brand of curcumin supplement that uses a phospholipid to enhance absorption of the curcumin. It has been studied to treat osteoarthritis of the knee in humans, effectively reducing pain by an amount equivalent to a prescription dose of ibuprofen. Many other brands are available with enhanced absorption and good safety profiles.

Unfortunately there have been no human randomized controlled trials of curcumin or any other phytochemical or micronutrient in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. There likely will never be such a study because of our medical system’s orientation to drugs.

Yet, a great deal of scientific evidence has described multiple mechanisms through which vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other micronutrients found in foods, beverages, spices and supplements can be beneficial in fighting COVID-19.

Examples discussed so far have included

  • Zinc in combination with Zinc ionophores (which open up channels so that zinc can enter the cell where it is known to block virus replication),
  • Vitamin D3 (which supports immune function and immune regulation in addition to numerous other vital physiologic functions),
  •  curcumin, which blocks viral entry, replication, and the inflammatory response
  • quercitin, which blocks viral entry, replication, the inflammatory response and also functions as a zinc ionophore
  • EGCg, which blocks viral entry, replication, inflammation, and also functions as a zinc ionophore

Vitamin C has not been discussed much here but there is mounting evidence that high doses of Vitamin C (which have been used by some ICU doctors for COVID 19 patients) may have beneficial effects by scavenging free radicals, reducing oxidative stress, and mitigating against depletion of GLUTATHIONE, the master anti-oxidant in the human body.

Glutathione, Vitamin C, and supplements that increase the production of glutathione in the human body will be discussed in the next post, Part III of this series on supplements/foods and COVID-19.


  1. Avoid alcohol consumption (alcohol wreaks havoc with your immunity)
  2. Get plenty of sleep (without adequate sleep your immune system does not work well )
  3. Follow good sleep habits
  4. Exercise, especially out of doors in a green space, supports the immune system
  5. Get some sunshine and make sure you have adequate Vitamin D levels.
  6. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in micronutrients.
  7. Practice stress reduction like meditation and yoga which improves the immune system


Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Below you will find links to multiple scientific studies on curcumin and protection against many kinds of virus.

Doctor Bob

A cost-effective preventative approach to potentially save lives in the coronavirus pandemic, jointly using Vitamin D, Curcumin, and Vitamin C,(with updated dosage …

Destabilizing the Structural Integrity of SARS-CoV2 Receptor Proteins by Curcumin Along with Hydroxychloroquine: An Insilco Approach for a Combination Therapy

Identification of potent COVID-19 Main Protease (Mpro) inhibitors from Curcumin analogues by Molecular Docking Analysis

Virtual Screening of Curcumin and Its Analogs Against the Spike Surface Glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV

Catechin and Curcumin interact with corona (2019-nCoV/SARS-CoV2) viral S protein and ACE2 of human cell membrane: insights from Computational study and …

 Molecular Docking Study of the Structural Disruption of the Viral 3CL-Protease of COVID19 Induced by Binding of Capsaicin, Piperine and Curcumin Part 1: A …

Effects of Vitamin C, Curcumin and Glycyrrhizic Acid Potentially Regulates Immune and Inflammatory Response Associated with Coronavirus Infections: A Perspective from …

Specific plant terpenoids and lignoids possess potent antiviral activities against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus

Antiviral potential of curcumin

Inhibition of curcumin on influenza A virus infection and influenzal pneumonia via oxidative stress, TLR2/4, p38/JNK MAPK and NF-κB pathways

Curcumin prevents replication of respiratory syncytial virus and the epithelial responses to it in human nasal epithelial cells

Curcumin alleviates macrophage activation and lung inflammation induced by influenza virus infection through inhibiting the NF‐κB signaling pathway

Inhibition of curcumin on influenza A virus infection and influenzal pneumonia via oxidative stress, TLR2/4, p38/JNK MAPK and NF-κB pathways

Synergic effect of curcumin and its structural analogue (Monoacetylcurcumin) on anti-influenza virus infection

Identification of regulators of the early stage of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus infection during curcumin treatment

Synergistic antiviral effect of curcumin functionalized graphene oxide against respiratory syncytial virus infection

Inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 integrase by curcumin

Curcumin inhibits influenza virus infection and haemagglutination activity

Curcumin and curcumin derivatives inhibit Tat-mediated transactivation of type 1 human immunodeficiency virus long terminal repeat

Curcumin inhibits herpes simplex virus immediate-early gene expression by a mechanism independent of p300/CBP histone acetyltransferase activity

Curcumin inhibits Zika and chikungunya virus infection by inhibiting cell binding

Curcumin inhibits hepatitis C virus replication via suppressing the Akt‐SREBP‐1 pathway

An in vitro study of liposomal curcumin: stability, toxicity and biological activity in human lymphocytes and Epstein-Barr virus-transformed human B-cells

Turmeric curcumin inhibits entry of all hepatitis C virus genotypes into human liver cells

Curcumin inhibits ultraviolet light induced human immunodeficiency virus gene expression

Curcumin inhibits hepatitis B virus via down‐regulation of the metabolic coactivator PGC‐

Curcumin inhibits Rift Valley fever virus replication in human cells

Inhibitory effects of curcumin on dengue virus type 2-infected cells in vitro

Curcumin protects neuronal cells from Japanese encephalitis virus-mediated cell death and also inhibits infective viral particle formation by dysregulation of ubiquitin …

Curcumin modified silver nanoparticles for highly efficient inhibition of respiratory syncytial virus infection

The chemopreventive compound curcumin is an efficient inhibitor of Epstein‐Barr virus BZLF1 transcription in Raji DR‐LUC cells

Structure–activity relationship analysis of curcumin analogues on anti‐influenza virus activity

Effect of antioxidant (turmeric, turmerin and curcumin) on human immunodeficiency virus

Curcumin as a multifaceted compound against human papilloma virus infection and cervical cancers: A review of chemistry, cellular, molecular, and preclinical …

Dysregulation of the ubiquitin-proteasome system by curcumin suppresses coxsackievirus B3 replication