Turmeric compounds could help prevent or treat common respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia.

Prevent and Treat Common Respiratory Infections with Turmeric

Turmeric and its compounds have antibacterial and antiviral properties that could help prevent and treat upper respiratory infections. These infections can affect the eyes, ears, nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs(v.1823)

Some of the bacteria and viruses that cause upper respiratory infections include:

Pathogens that Cause Common Respiratory Infections

Moraxella catarrhalis

M. catarrhalis is a type of bacteria that causes upper respiratory infections. Mouth sores are frequently a side effect of cancer therapy. Cancer patients with them are susceptible to M. catarrhalis invasion through the inflamed sores. (v.32140)


Commonly known as human parainfluenza viruses, HPIVs cause common colds and sore throat symptoms. However, repeated infection by HPIVs can cause more serious diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis(v.141)

Haemophilus influenzae

H. influenzae are bacteria that cause upper respiratory infections, especially in children. These include infections of the: (v.18142143)

  • Ears
  • Eyes
  • Sinuses

H. influenzae also cause urinary tract infections, vaginitis, and pneumonia(v.18)

Serratia marcescens

Gram-negative type of bacteria that cause upper respiratory and urinary tract infections, usually in hospital patients. Respiratory infections caused by S. marcescens include pneumonia(v.109144)

S. marcescens infections occur more frequently in men. In heroin addicts, these infections can also cause serious inflammatory infections in the heart and bones(v.109144)

Klebsiella pneumoniae

An opportunistic bacterium that causes infections in people with weakened immune systems. One of the more serious infections K. pneumoniae causes is pneumonia(v.23)

How Can Turmeric Help?

Turmeric and its compounds have antibacterial and antiviral effects against some of the microbes that cause upper respiratory infections. In addition, turmeric compounds have beneficial properties typically not found in conventional antimicrobial drugs. These can also help prevent and treat the flu, common cold, pneumonia, sinusitis, and ear infections: (v.9145)

Turmeric Properties that Help Respiratory Infections


  • As the immune system responds to various stressors, it generates free radicals. (v.27146)
  • Without enough antioxidant power to neutralize them, free radicals promote infection. (v.27146)


  • Supporting the immune system during an infection may help prevent a worse infection. For example, flu can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of pneumonia(v.24)


  • Psychological stress is linked to decreased ability to resist infection. (v.146)
  • Research links chronic stress to significantly reduced immune function and greater risk for upper respiratory tract infections. (v.146)


  • Human population studies suggest obesity is associated with greater risk for infections, including influenza and pneumonia(v.147)
  • Animal studies show obesity also makes the symptoms and outcomes of influenza worse. (v.147)

Turmeric Compound Activity

Many of turmeric's polyphenol and flavonoid compounds individually have a number of beneficial properties that could help prevent infections. Some have properties that may also relieve the symptoms from cold and flu bacteria and viruses. These include:

Turmeric Compounds that Can Help with Respiratory Infections

1,8-CINEOLE (v.7173153-155)

α-PINENE (v.71788185)


α-TERPINEOL (v.7581)


β-PINENE (v.717881)




BORNEOL (v.7475)


CAFFEIC ACID (v.717583156)


CAMPHOR (v.717475)


EUGENOL (v.717581)


FARNESOL (v.76130)




γ-TERPINENE (v.717375)


GERANIOL (v.7177)


LIMONENE (v.717581)


MYRICETIN (v.7184145)




QUERCETIN (v.7183)


ρ-CYMENE (v.71v.7378156)




Evidence of Benefit

Clinical Trial
Studies of Turmeric Compounds on Respiratory Infections

Recurrent Respiratory

Clinical Study in Children

Children given an oral supplement of curcumin combined with lactoferrin had less recurrent respiratory tract infections. (v.9)

Acute Respiratory

Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial

A clinical study was conducted involving 110 patients with acute respiratory tract infection. Treatment was by intravenous injection for 3-5 days. (v.148)

More of the patients given curcuma oil were cured than those not given the oil. Symptoms were also relieved faster than in the control group. (v.148)

Haemophilus influenzae


Turmeric extract shows moderate antibacterial effects against H. influenzae. This bacterium is also the most common one found in lungs of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In an animal study, curcumin compounds from turmeric blocked the inflammation in COPD. (v.142143)

Klebsiella pneumoniae


Animal studies suggest that curcumin can be used to reduce lung inflammation in pneumonia caused by K. pneumoniae bacteria. When used by itself, curcumin did not show any antibacterial effect. However, it enhanced the effectiveness of the antibiotic drug augmentin. (v.23)

Moraxella catarrhalis


A nasal spray made from curcumin stopped some of the infectious activity of M. catarrhalis. Specifically, curcumin suppressed production of inflammatory cytokine proteins triggered by the bacteria. (v.149)


Lab and animal

Studies show that zedoary turmeric oil spray blocks parainfluenza viruses. Its most potent effect was against type II. (v.1098150)

Beta-elemene is considered the active ingredient in zedoary turmeric oil. It is also found in the rhizome of Curcuma longa, the plant species used for turmeric spice. (v.1098150)

Serratia marcescens


Turmeric extract inhibited S. marcescens bacterial growth far better than the following conventional antibiotics: (v.151152)

  • Oxytetracycline
  • Ampicillin
  • Penicillin G
  • Amoxicillin

Turmeric also showed slightly better effects than nelidixic acid and neomycin. (v.151152)

Turmeric did not block S. marcescens as well as chloramphenicol, streptomycin, gentamycin, and ciproflexin. Although it was 77-90% as effective as these medications, turmeric may help counteract drug resistance in the bacteria. (v.151152)

H. influenzae can be a cause of Infection of the vagina and vulva in pre-adolescent girls and elderly women. (v.18)
Endocarditis. (v.109)
Osteomyelitis. (v.109)
Such as environmental factors, work stress, and other physiological conditions. (v.146)
Including chronic stress that's job-related or related to caring for family members with dementia. (v.146)
Interleukin-8 proteins (IL-8). (v.149)
Indirectly, by enhancing penetration of bacteria cell membranes. (v.155)
Specifically in the lung and throat. (v.71)
Klebsiella pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae(v.8185)
Specifically in the lung. (v.71)
Influenza virus. (v.71)
Klebsiella pneumoniae(v.71)
Human rhinovirus. (v.71)
Klebsiella pneumoniae(v.81)
Specifically in the lung. (v.71)
Specifically in the lung. (v.71)
Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus(v.83)
Specifically in the lung. (v.83)
Influenza and cold viruses. (v.71156)
Klebsiella pneumoniae(v.81)
Specifically in the lung. (v.71)
Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae(v.76)
Cold viruses. (v.71)
Klebsiella pneumoniae(v.81)
Influenza and cold viruses. (v.71)
Influenza virus. (v.156)
Cold viruses. (v.71)
Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus(v.83)
Specifically in the lung and throat. (v.71)
Influenza and cold viruses. (v.71156)
Influenza and cold viruses. (v.71156)
Specifically in the lung. (v.71)

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