Coronavirus home remedy: curcumin (turmeric)

Turmeric root to help prevent COVID-19? Does this home remedy work?
Turmeric root to help prevent COVID-19? Does this home remedy have any evidence?

As we don’t have any treatments for COVID-19 yet, what is the role and efficacy of a coronavirus home remedy for boosting our immune system? Let’s focus on safe, inexpensive remedies that have been studied in other infections.

Potential COVID-19 treatments.. where does curcumin (turmeric root) lie?

As the world races to find treatments against COVID-19 we have seen several types of treatments proposed:

  • Repurposing existing medications
  • Developing new medications
  • Blood transfusion-based therapies
  • Vaccines (long term)

Developing new medications and using blood transfusion-based therapies are less desirable than the first option because of high cost, development time, and infrastructure. New medications require extensive testing for safety, in addition to research and development from scratch. Blood transfusions carry risk and require a donor supply, both of which are less than desirable.

Repurposing an existing medication has many advantages, including known safety profile, existing manufacturing supply, and (hopefully) decreased cost. This requires testing against the new disease (COVID-19 in this case), but the rest of the deployment is significantly less.

Curcumin as a repurposed, existing medication against coronavirus

The concept of “food as medicine” or “plants as medicine” is greatly overlooked in medicine today. For thousands of years, many plants had been used for their medicinal value. In fact, our modern day medications were first derived from plants. Most importantly, they carry a very low risk profile in general. For this reason, in the appropriate setting, it is worthwhile to consider how we can best boost our immune systems with the food that we eat, and possibly consider supplementing to prevent any deficiencies. I mentioned echinacea in a previous post. Today, I would like to discuss several different plants and foods, so let’s start today with curcumin as a coronavirus home remedy.

Curcumin is a component of the turmeric root, long known to have anti-inflammatory properties. It has been studied extensively in osteoarthritis, uveitis, diabetes, cancer, and many more inflammatory conditions. We believe one of the major components of morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 to be from the inflammatory response of the body in response to the coronavirus virus. This makes treatments that modulate our immune system’s response strong contenders as valuable treatments.

Curcumin activity against SARS-CoV-2

While there are many components to our body’s inflammatory response, curcumin may target specific components relevant to SARS-CoV-2 and how it infects the cells of our respiratory tract. This makes it more desirable than a “blanket” anti-inflammatory, such as steroid medications. Those medications suppress the immune system very broadly and carry numerous serious side effects.

There are many theoretical mechanisms for how curcumin may decrease viral activity and decrease infection risk, but we don’t have any formal trials yet testing against COVID-19. That being said, very few medications have been tested against coronavirus. Furthermore, there are very few side effects from using curcumin in its whole food form as turmeric – this is exactly what I advocate for in any coronavirus home remedy.

Curcumin as a whole food supplement, directly from the root itself!
Curcumin as a whole food supplement, directly from the root itself. No pills needed!

Curcumin as part of an integrated approach to COVID-19

My recommendation: curcumin represents one of the prime examples of an integrated approach to our health. We can add turmeric powder to our food every day. Note that high doses of curcumin are difficult to consume through diet alone, though supplementation is possible under the direction of a specialist. Using curcumin, or turmeric root, as a coronavirus home remedy offers several advantages:

  • Cooking at home is nearly always more healthful than eating out
  • Adding new spices (such as turmeric powder) to our cooking can not only increase flavor, but also encourage us to learn to cook more dishes at home to take advantage of the benefits of home-cooked meals
  • There are nearly no side effects (beyond food allergies) to using turmeric powder, and it has been used for thousands of years safely
  • By virtue of not being a single isolated active ingredient, turmeric powder can provide favorable effects to the rest of the body (as mentioned above, it has proven evidence in numerous inflammatory conditions)
  • By adding a new cooking ingredient we are empowering ourselves to take control of our health through our daily food choices rather than a pill
  • Turmeric powder is inexpensive

My favorite conclusion from this is that independent of the efficacy of curcumin specifically in COVID-19, notice how many fantastic “side effects” there are from adding it to the arsenal of our healthy lifestyle!

Take home: curcumin is an anti-inflammatory component of turmeric root, which is hypothesized to help prevent COVID-19 and reduce the body’s inflammatory response should infection occur. While not formally studied yet, the safety profile, low cost, and flavor of turmeric powder make it a recommended addition to your healthy lifestyle.

Please keep asking your questions! I’d love to hear from you so I can answer more popular questions and spread accurate information!

Be sure to share this information with your family and friends, especially if they like to cook with turmeric!

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