Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on April 18, 2022
There are very few guarantees in life, but one thing you can always count on is the arrival of cold and flu season. Each year brings about the same fundamental question: What are the best natural remedies to cure a common cold, coughing and sneezing, or stomach flu symptoms?
Turmeric supplements are perhaps the most well-studied and popular herbal remedy on earth. The curcuminoid content within turmeric provides immense health benefits with very few side effects. But, does turmeric help with colds and coughs? Can it help combat the seasonal flu or bring down a fever?
Turmeric for Colds and Flu
Curcumin has demonstrated that it can have a positive impact on many chronic conditions, including high blood pressure and arthritis and joint pain. Turmeric can even help anxiety and depression and back pain when taken daily.
Recently, researchers have discovered that turmeric may also be beneficial for those who suffer from cold and flu-like symptoms. Curcumin has the potential to reduce inflammation in the body linked to excessive coughing and sneezing while increasing antioxidant capacity to boost your immunity.
To understand how turmeric can improve your cold, let’s discuss how these conditions arise in a bit more detail.
What Is the Common Cold?
The common cold refers to an upper respiratory tract viral infection (rhinovirus), typically impacting the nose and throat. While younger children are at higher risk of acquiring a cold, a healthy adult can expect to have two or three colds per year.
Symptoms of the common cold include:
These symptoms, caused primarily by the immune system’s inflammatory response to the virus, can drag on for a few days to a week. At times, you may mistake the common cold for a sinus infection or allergies and asthma, which turmeric has shown to help. (1)
What Is the Flu (Influenza)?
The flu is a contagious illness of the respiratory system that can cause mild or severe symptoms. Derived from influenza viruses, the seasonal flu comes in two main types that routinely spread between people:
- Influenza A
- Influenza B
The A and B viruses are often responsible for winter flu epidemics in the United States, where type A is the only one known to cause global flu pandemics. Type C and D influenza can impact humans, but they are less likely to do so.
Flu symptoms are primarily the same as the common cold, but with more potential for complications and longer recovery times. If you get the stomach flu, you may also experience diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration resulting in weight loss.
A compromised immune system may lead to sinus infections or viral pneumonia, which can worsen preexisting medical conditions. Thus, it’s important to stay rested, stay hydrated, and increase your antioxidant intake so you can recover quickly. (2)
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
Two capabilities that make turmeric incredibly unique are its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that turmeric is good for your immune system and is an excellent natural supplement to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Studies show that curcumin’s ability to behave as an antioxidant and lower oxidative stress in the body has proven itself useful in cancer treatment. As an additional perk, turmeric even supports brain health and may prevent several diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Therefore, researchers believe it should be able to help with less severe conditions, as well. In today’s post, we’ll cover the studies demonstrating turmeric’s ability to enhance immunity and whether or not it is beneficial for cold and flu symptoms.
Is Turmeric Good for Colds and Flu?
Is turmeric good for your immune system? It seems highly likely that it is. Free radicals have a split role in the body, and they can be both beneficial and harmful in larger quantities. These compounds originate from normal cellular metabolism or external sources, including cigarette smoke, pollution, dust particles, or radiation.
When a free radical overload occurs, and the body fails to break them down properly, it leads to a state of oxidative stress. Prolonged oxidative stress can increase the odds of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism. (3)
Simply put, oxidation describes a heavy imbalance in free radicals over antioxidants. In this state, your immune system becomes compromised and loses its ability to fight basic illnesses such as colds or the flu. Antioxidants are compounds that slow cellular damage by fighting free radicals, restoring your immune system’s full potential. (4, 5)
Curcumin, the primary constituent in turmeric root, is a powerful antioxidant with significant potential to reduce oxidative stress. Research shows that curcumin exhibits protective effects on the body’s antioxidant status, and also helps cleanse and detoxify the body. (6, 7)
In other studies, turmeric demonstrated that it could serve as an effective immunomodulatory agent by enhancing antibody response. The immune system produces these antibodies to fend off germs and foreign invaders, such as the common cold or the influenza virus. (8)
There have also been numerous studies analyzing curcumin’s antimicrobial activity with a large amount of success. Turmeric’s curcuminoid content possesses strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity, making it ideal for maintaining peak immunity during cold and flu season. (9)
Is Turmeric Good for a Fever?
Can turmeric reduce a fever? A fever is generally an indication that your body is doing its job. The rise in body temperature triggers a cellular response encouraging the immune system to take appropriate action against the foreign invader. Curcumin’s antioxidant capacity helps limit the damage caused by these bacteria and viruses.
Another significant benefit of turmeric for fevers is its ability to enhance your immune system by lowering inflammation. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties can boost immunity by preventing chronic oxidative stress. There is a notable reduction in pathological complications and the development of chronic illness in those who take it.
This ability to downregulate the body’s inflammatory process allows turmeric to keep the immune system from overreacting to foreign invaders. Since many of the cold and flu symptoms derive from inflammation, curcumin helps lower their severity and can potentially help bring down a fever. (10, 11)
Is Turmeric Good for a Cough?
Can turmeric help a cough? We know that coughing is a common symptom of colds. So if we use turmeric to support our immune system with antioxidants, we can address the root cause of the cough. But there is another way in which turmeric can cure a cough: by exerting an antihistamine-like effect on the body.
For example, the worsening of a seasonal cold sometimes leads to excessive histamine release and inflammation in the airways. This overproduction of histamine may contribute to swelling in the nasal passage leading to difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, congestion, and other related symptoms.
Research shows that turmeric has an antihistamine effect on the body, which makes it a potential treatment for cold and flu symptoms. Curcumin’s ability to inhibit histamine release makes it effective in treating asthma and allergies as well. (12)
Is Turmeric Good for a Sore Throat?
Can turmeric heal a sore throat? Many health sites recommend drinking turmeric and honey to soothe throat irritation. While this may help to some degree, the real benefit from turmeric is in the curcumin content, not in its direct contact with the throat.
If you’re simply drinking turmeric with honey, it’s unlikely there will be enough curcumin to support immunity. With that said, honey does have antibacterial properties, and there’s significant anecdotal evidence that it can help a sore throat.
Our recommendation here is to have some sort of tea with honey, but then take a turmeric supplement in addition. Together they should be able to help break up mucus and treat the root cause of the irritation.
How to Use Turmeric for Cold and Cough
To get the best results and treat your cold or fever quickly, you should use an encapsulated turmeric supplement.
Turmeric contains approximately 3.14% curcumin, on average. This means that drinking turmeric, or adding it to a food or smoothie will provide little if any benefit. You’ll need a medicinal amount of curcumin which you’ll only get in supplement form.
The body also struggles to properly absorb turmeric and curcumin without assistance from substances like piperine (black pepper extract), which has been shown to improve absorption by 20 times. All good products will include piperine in their formulas, usually as patented ingredient BioPerine.
For even better absorption, always pick a supplement that contains AstraGin, an all-natural patented ingredient that supports gut health and boosts absorption by an additional 92%. To summarize, the best products will contain turmeric and piperine together, along with AstraGin.
How much turmeric should I take for a cold? Turmeric is very well tolerated, even at higher dosages. Most dietary supplements that work will provide between 150 and 250 mg of curcumin per 2-capsule serving. This is a safe and effective turmeric dosage that can be used daily, to treat and prevent colds, and reduce fevers.
This is generally enough for most people, but in the case of severe illness, a second dose is recommended 8 hours apart from the first.
Potential Side Effects
What are the negative effects of turmeric? The safety profile of turmeric and curcumin supplements is excellent. Turmeric side effects are extremely rare and often mild when using the suggested dosage. However, there are a few potential adverse reactions to be aware of.
- Turmeric is known to be a natural anticoagulant and may negatively interfere with blood thinners.
- Curcumin has a glucose-lowering effect. Diabetics should use extra precautions.
- Excessive dosages may increase the likelihood of stomach irritation, nausea, or headaches.
Who should not use turmeric? Do not use turmeric if it is just before or after a scheduled surgery, or if you’re using blood thinners as it may cause complications with blood clotting. Do not use turmeric or curcumin in medicinal amounts if you are pregnant or nursing.
Final Thoughts on Turmeric for Colds and Flu
Is turmeric good for colds and flu symptoms? The answer is a resounding, yes. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant with incredible immune system boosting potential. It contains antiviral and antibacterial properties and can help reduce symptoms by slowing histamine release in the body.
Using the correct turmeric dosage with a quality product can help reduce coughing, sneezing, fever, and body aches while placing you on the fast track to recovery. As always, if you’re considering using turmeric for the common cold or stomach flu, consult with a certified medical professional to make sure it’s right for your situation.