COVID-19 treatment: combining curcumin and quercetin may reduce duration

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

COVID-19 treatment: combining curcumin and quercetin may reduce duration

Related tags COVID-19 coronavirus Polyphenols Curcumin quercetin

Outpatients who were administered curcumin (CUR) and quercetin (QUE) after testing positive for early-stage SARS-CoV-2 were found to clear the virus at a significantly faster rate, compared to those receiving standard of care (SOC) alone.

In addition, a significantly higher number of patients in the supplemented group reported that their acute symptoms, such as fever and cough, had significantly improved.

“The results revealed in this study are easily applicable in community-based patients and could possibly help in the management of mild to moderately symptomatic COVID-19 outpatients.”, ​the researchers from Pakistan conclude.

Pandemic prevalence

The impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was vast, causing the deaths of over 6 million people globally whilst still affecting lives today. With a complex range of symptoms varying across different hosts, it has been observed that 10-20% of symptomatic patients​ may develop a serious illness.

The severity that COVID-19 can have highlights the need for its prevention at an early stage, limiting the developments of excessive systemic inflammation of the lungs; an occurrence observed to be the main cause of patient mortality.

CUR and QUE are polyphenols with previously studied antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. In vitro studies​ have also demonstrated that both CUR and QUE have inhibited severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-coV-2). 

Following this, researchers looked to assess the efficacy of the combined administration of CUR and QUE in treating early-stage COVID-19 infection.

Study specifics

The study involved 50 outpatients at Liaquat Medical University Hospital, with confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2. Criteria for this included a positive RT-PCR tests paired with mild to moderate associated symptoms such as fever and cough.

Participants were randomised into two equal groups, one involving the administration of an oral CUR-QUE supplement with SOC, and one involving SOC alone. The CUR-QUE treatment group were required to take a soft capsule of 168mg of curcumin and 260mg of quercetin twice daily for 14 days. Both groups received SOC medications including paracetamol, oral azithromycin, oral prednisolone, with or without  ceftriaxone.

At the seven day follow up, it was established that 45% more patients in the CUR-QUE group were clear of the COVID inflection, suggesting they were able to clear the virus significantly faster than the control group. It was established that by day 14, all remaining patients in both groups were clear of the virus, highlighting the delayed recovery time of those within this group.

In addition, it was observed that the acute symptoms initially observed had cleared in 40% of the CUR-QUE treated group at day seven, when compared to 16% of the control group.

With regards to the assessed laboratory biochemistry of the patients, serum levels of inflammatory biomarkers were not observed to be significantly different between the two groups.

Polyphenol potential

The study results suggest that the combined intakes of CUR-QUE may have therapeutic potential for treating the COVID-19 virus in patients at an early stage.

“It is speculated that the observed treatment benefits of CUR-QUE supplementation is possibly due to synergistic pharmacological effects of curcumin and quercetin.”, ​the researchers explain, suggesting that the combination may interfere with the replication of the main protease (Mpro) involved the virus’ replication.

They add that the polyphenols have also been observed to exhibit “direct binding to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein (S-protein) RBD”, ​which may prevent viral entry to host cells, the scientists hypothesise.

Whilst the results mirror previous study findings, there is a need for future study utilising larger sample sizes, as well as placebo-controls and double-blind trials to further validate the observations.


Source: Frontiers in Nutrition

The possible therapeutic role of curcumin and quercetin in the early-stage of COVID-19—Results from a pragmatic randomized clinical trial”

Ikram Din Ujjan, Saeed Khan, Roohi Nigar, Hammad Ahmed, Sagheer Ahmad and Amjad Khan.

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