Turmeric compounds may help relieve symptoms of HIV and slow progression to AIDS.

Herbal Help for AIDS

Can turmeric help treat AIDS? Studies suggest that compounds in turmeric might be able to. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV only takes about 14 days to establish itself in the body after infecting the first T-cell(v.29170171)

Progression of HIV Infection to AIDS

Once a person is infected, the immune system begins a battle against the HIV virus. Unfortunately, HIV actually turns the immune systems fighter cells into infected traitors. Without treatment to help, HIV wins and AIDS develops: (v.29170171)

Figure V.2: HIV Turns into AIDS

Figure V.2: HIV Turns into AIDS

How Can Turmeric Help?

There is currently no cure for HIV infection. But there are ways to treat it. Until there is a cure, treatment turns HIV into a chronic condition. The goal is to prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS. (v.170171)

Turmeric and It's Main Compounds

Free radicals play a role in infection and development of HIV into AIDS. Turmeric's antioxidant properties could delay the progression of HIV. In fact, clinical studies show that taking nutritional supplements that boost the immune system in HIV-infected patients helps slow the virus down. (v.172)

In lab tests, turmeric compounds block HIV activity. Clinical trials with HIV patients show turmeric and its compounds can also relieve symptoms. (v.14)

Table V.22: Effects of Main Turmeric Compounds on HIV

Turmeric Extract

(in soap)

  • Antioxidant (v.25)
  • Antimicrobial (v.25)

Symptom relief. In a clinical study turmeric soap healed skin wounds in HIV patients. It also reduced itchy skin. (v.25)



  • Inhibits enzymes and proteins that promote infection: (v.2729)
  • Reduces infected cells. (v.173)
  • Boosts immune system. (v.173)
  • Could prevent neuron brain cell injury. (v.174)

Slows down infection. Similar to HIV drugs, curcumin could help slow the progression to AIDS. In the lab, it blocks enzymes that the HIV virus needs to infect cells and multiply. For example, Tat proteins are secreted by HIV-infected cells and play a role in infecting healthy cells. (v.2729)

Prevent or treat dementia caused by HIV-1. In an animal study curcumin prevented brain cell damage from free radicals. It also reduced learning and memory impairment caused by HIV-1 proteins(v.174)

Clinical study results are mixed — but patients feel better. In one small clinical study with 3 HIV patients, curcumin substantially reduced the number of infected cells (both combined with HIV drug treatment and by itself). Patients also showed an increase in healthy immune T-cells over time. (v.173175)

Another study involving 40 HIV patients found no significant benefit from either high or low doses of curcumin. However, patients did report feeling better. (v.173175)



  • Blocks infected T-cells from multiplying. (v.28)
  • Enhances AZT drug efficacy. (v.28)

Inhibits infection. When tested on HIV-infected blood, turmerin and the HIV drug AZT inhibited infection by 37%. (v.28)

Immune-Boosting. Together, turmerin and AZT also increased healthy immune cells. (v.28)

Limits Drug Side Effects. Lower doses of AZT, combined with turmerin, could work as well as higher doses. Since AZT has some toxic side effects, this would be beneficial. (v.28)


Preventing Potentially Deadly Infections in HIV Patients

Turmeric also helps inhibit microbes that can cause opportunistic bacterial and yeast infections. This can be a matter of life and death for HIV patients. For example, Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria rarely make healthy people seriously sick. But in those with weakened immune systems, P. aeruginosa can cause severe infections such as meningitis, sepsis, and pneumonia that are frequently fatal in these patients. (v.8094)

Although the turmeric concentration used in a liquid soap failed to inhibit P. aeruginosa, multiple lab experiments suggest that turmeric can block its growth. Other particularly dangerous microbes for HIV patients that studies show turmeric compounds inhibit include: (v.11618256465)

Essential Nutrients and Antioxidant Polyphenols in Turmeric Help Fight HIV

Lab studies demonstrate that other compounds in turmeric also show specific anti-HIV activity. Some of these also inhibit herpes viruses, which can increase the transmission of HIV and promote its progression to AIDS. (v.162)

Table V.23: Anti-HIV Effects of Turmeric Compounds


  • Antiviral effects against HIV. (v.71)
  • Blocks viral activity of HIV-promoting herpes viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2). This includes the ability of the herpes virus to attach to and infect cells. (v.85162)

FISETIN (v.84)


  • Stops HIV-1 from replicating in lymphocytes(v.85)
  • Suppresses the enzyme HIV-1 integrase. (v.163)



  • Prevents the virus from replicating. (v.28)
  • Reduces infectivity. (v.28)
  • Improves effectiveness of the conventional HIV drug AZT. (v.28)

VITAMIN E (v.176)

  • Reduces the risk of HIV progressing to AIDS. (v.170)
HIV-1gp120 V3 loop peptide.  (v.174)
Infection of the central nervous system. (v.18)

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