Herbal Treatment for Staph, MRSA, & Toxic Shock Syndrome

Boy Coughing

Turmeric extracts and compounds could help treat staph infections. In the lab, turmeric even kills the drug resistant MRSA and ORSA types of staph(v.22)

What Kinds of Infections Do Staph Bacteria Cause?

Staphylococcus aureus are gram positive types of bacteria that can cause: (v.1818)

MRSA and ORSA versions of S. aureus bacteria cause more severe symptoms. They are also resistant to conventional antibiotic treatments(v.1818)

Toxic Shock Syndrome

TSST-1 is the type of S. aureus that causes toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a severe and potentially deadly infection. It is most often associated with menstruation and tampon use. However, it can begin in mucous membranes other than the vagina (such as in the nose and sinuses). (v.818)

Is There Evidence Turmeric Can Help Stop Staph Infections?

Modern studies suggest that turmeric compounds could help treat staph infections. Turmeric oil, some of the many individual turmeric compounds (such as curcumin), and combination therapies (e.g., with phototherapy) have shown effectiveness against different species and strains of Staphylococci bacteria. (v.132)

Researchers have found that some of the ways turmeric compounds uses to fight staph include:

  • Blocking MDR-1, a gene responsible for resistance to multiple antibacterial and other drugs. (v.5)
  • Suppressing sortase A, a surface protein that S. aureus uses to adhere to cells in order to infect them. (v.133)
Clinical Trial
Table V.12: Turmeric Compound Effectiveness against Staph Infections


Antimicrobial Fabric

Chitosan-coated cotton fabric dyed with turmeric's curcuminoid extracts for 1 hour in hot water reduced staph bacterial growth by 100%. (v.40)

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Lab & animal studies

Topical curcumin prevented death in 60% of animals infected with a lethal version of TSS. TSST-1 bacteria trigger a strong inflammatory immune system response. This response actually allows the bacteria to invade vaginal tissue and spread to other organs. (v.8)

Curcumin's powerful anti-inflammatory properties prevented the more serious symptoms and fatalities caused by TSS. Curcumin suppressed the typical massive production of inflammatory proteins related to the immune system response. In particular, it blocked production of TNF-α—the cytokine protein that causes hypotension and death in toxic shock syndrome. (v.8)

Staph in Urinary Tract Infections

Lab studies

Turmeric extracts killed 100% of gram positive bacteria, such as S. aureus, in urine samples from patients with urinary tract infections(v.134)

However, turmeric was completely ineffective against gram negative type of bacteria isolated from the urine samples. (v.134)


Lab studies

Turmeric extract blocked MRSA and non-drug resistant staph bacteria. However, the combination of turmeric and B. vulgaris extracts worked against more bacteria for a longer time. The herbal combination also showed anti-invasive properties. (v.1)

When combined with phototherapy, curcumin killed MRSA bacteria by attacking the bacteria’s cell membranes. Only the highest concentration (20 µM of curcumin) was successful against MRSA. (v.132)

Concentrations of curcumin as low as 5.0 µM killed non-resistant staph bacteria. (v.132)

S. aureus

Industrial Lab and Human Clinical Trial

Turmeric-based antimicrobial liquid soap suppressed S. aureus and other microbes. (v.25)

Developed for cleaning wounds in patients with weakened immune systems, the soap also reduced symptoms and helped heal wounds quickly. (v.25)

Staph and Resistant Staph Strains

Lab studies combined with tea tree oil

Topical turmeric combined with tea tree oil in a cream base effectively blocked S. aureus, S. epidermidis, MRSA, and MSSA. It worked almost as well or better than conventional antibacterial drugs amoxicillin (30 µg) and ampicillin (10 µg). (v.119)

Tea tree oil is the essential oil from Melaleuca alternifolia leaves. It contains many of the same plant compounds as turmeric. These include 1,8-cineole, terpinolene, ρ-cymene, α-pinene, and α-terpineol. The combination cream also inhibited Propionibacterium acnes, bacteria that can cause pimples. (Studies suggest turmeric compounds can help with acne too!) (v.737578119135)

S. aureus

Lab studies

Turmeric oil, which contains mostly turmerones and curlone, showed antibacterial activity against different types of staph bacteria. (v.571)

Staph Biofilms

Lab studies

When combined with phototherapy, encapsulated curcumin(v.35-36)

  • Stops biofilm formation by S. aureus. Biofilms protect bacteria from the immune system and antibiotic treatment.
  • Kills 71-87% of S. epidermidis.

Curcumin also appears to interfere with S. aureus cell division—even when protected inside biofilms. (v.35-36)

Other Turmeric Compounds that May Help Fight Staph Infections

Research suggests that individual turmeric compounds have antibacterial effects against Staphylococci bacteria. These include:

According to some researchers, several of these performed as well or better against both S. aureus and S. epidermidis than the antibiotic streptomycin in the disc-diffusion type of test (e.g., 1,8-cineole and camphor). The pinenes both showed inhibition zones against both types of staph over 87% that of streptomycin. Limonene was 62.5% as effective against S. aureus and 75% against S. epidermidis as streptomycin. (v.67)

However, others studies suggest that some of these same compounds don't work efficiently by themselves. These include the pinenes, limonene, ρ-cymene, and γ-terpinene. (v.79)

Such as methicillin, penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalosporins, and oxacillin. (v.1)
Made from dried turmeric rhizomes. (v.134)
Such as S. aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes(v.134)
Such as Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (although other studies show the opposite). (v.64-65134)
Light-emitting diode (LED) phototherapy. (v.132)
Infection of the central nervous system. (v.18)

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