Antiviral Herbs

There are literally hundreds of different types of viruses that create a wide range of illnesses in the human body. From the common cold and influenza (seasonal flu) to more serious chronic illnesses like HIV– these blanket virus terms also branch out into many sub-strains.

Unlike bacterial infections that can occasionally benefit from the mindful use of antibiotics, viruses cannot be treated by mainstream medicine. By harnessing the power of natural antiviral herbs, you can lessen the duration and intensity of your viral infection without inducing any nasty side effects. This guide will highlight some of the top contenders to include in your diet and supplement routine, and help you stay healthy year-round.

What Are Antiviral Herbs?

Antiviral herbs are plants that contain properties to help ward off and fight virus-based infections. Viruses are pathogens that can only survive inside the cells of another living organism. They look for hosts to proliferate in, which causes a wide range of unpleasant symptoms in humans. Antiviral herbs have the ability to fight infections as well as prevent them, by strengthening the immune system. Many of the active properties of antiviral herbs are not water-soluble, and so it is advised you seek out a tinctured extract instead of getting the raw plant form.

Antiviral Herbs in the Immune System

Many antiviral herbs also have a potent ability to support your immune system, meaning that your body has more strength to battle against any type of invader. This is important because viruses can infect a host in so many different ways that your best defense is indeed a resilient body. Some infections enter through the blood (like HIV), others are transmitted by couching or sneezing (the flu or cold), while others are caught through oral-fecal transmission due to poor sanitation (like gastroenteritis). Although taking preventative measures to limit your exposure to these inflammatory viruses, ultimately a strong immune system will always be your best defense mechanism.

Top Antiviral Herbs and Their Uses

Nature has provided us with a wide range of natural ways to fight viral infections. This list is not enxaustive but many of the most potent and accessible antiviral herbs. Some of these ingredients can be consumed raw, others are best used boiled into a tea, and others are best consumed in tinctured form. Ultimately tinctured herbs will provide you with a more bioavailable ingredient.

  1. Garlic

Garlic is one of the most classic antiviral herbs and takes first place on the list because most people already have it sitting in their pantry. Garlic can be used internally or topically but should be kept raw to maintain its medicinal value.

What is Garlic Used For?

  • Kills bacterial, viral, and parasitic infection
  • Fights ear infections
  • Fights eye infections
  • Reduces and potentially reverses hair loss
  • Fight cancer
  • Support cardiovascular health

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

You can essentially consume as much garlic as you can handle. To get the most out of it medicinally, crush the garlic first, to release it’s healing properties (called allicin). You can do this using the back of a knife, or mince it finely before taking it. Consuming it raw ensures the garlic keeps its strong medicinal value. You can also make potent garlic oil by crushing then chopping a handful of garlic cloves, and letting them sit in olive oil overnight. This oil can be used for dressings, drizzles on soups or any savory dish.

If you cannot bear the taste, garlic can also be purchased encapsulated.

For viral skin infections, you can create a paste from the raw garlic and apply it directly to the skin, and wrap it in gauze. If the infection doesn’t heal within two weeks, seek medical advice.

  1. Oregano

Oregano is a delicious cooking herb that is also a potent healer. For medicinal purposes, wild oregano should be used, as an essential oil extract. This distilled oil is generally found in a tincture made with a base of olive oil. Over 1,000 pounds of wild oregano is used to make one pound of essential oil.

Wild oregano oil has been shown to be more successful at treating bacterial infection than antibiotics, but these results also apply to viruses and parasitic infections. This is thanks fo the powerful compounds of thymol and carvacrol. Unlike pharmaceutical medications, oregano oil has no side effects. Wild oregano oil is one of the most well studied antiviral herbs available today.

What is Oregano Used For?

  • Kills parasitic, viral, and bacterial infections
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Fights cancerous cells and tumors

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Oil of wild oregano is very potent. You can take 1-4 drops taken twice daily in water, or it can be applied topically. Generally, this oil is already diluted in olive oil, but if you’re using it in pure essential oil form, ensure to dilute it before applying it topically or taking it internally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Ginger

Ginger is one of the holy ingredients of Ayurvedic medicine. This ancient Indian wisdom loves ginger particularly due to it’s warming properties in the body.  This fire helps cleanse the lymphatic system, stimulates digestion, boosts the immune system, and has a positive influence on a wide range of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.

What is Ginger 3 Used For?

  • Warms the system
  • Boosts digestion
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Reduces pain
  • Balances blood sugar levels
  • Relieves nausea
  • Reduces inflammation

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Ginger can be used in so many different ways, both raw and cooked, for medicinal benefits. You can simmer ginger in hot water to drink as a tea, nibble on a small piece of raw ginger to stimulate digestion before a meal or to calm nausea. Ginger can also be consumed as a dried powder, or simply used in cooking. To harness the medicinal benefits of ginger for many of its uses, have a little (either raw or as a tea) before a meal.

  1. Elderberry

Elderberry is the extract that comes from the dark purple berries of the elder tree. This popular cold and flu remedy is often rendered into a sweet-tasting syrup. Its lesser-known benefits include pain relief from a wide range of ailments.

What is Elderberry Used For?

  • Fight viral and bacterial infections
  • Supports the immune system
  • Fights herpes, influenza, the common cold
  • Relieves sinus pain, back and leg pain, nerve pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Relieves constipation
  • Heals gum inflammation

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Elderberry is often found as a syrup and used for cold and flu symptoms. It is especially good for children since its naturally sweet flavor is much more pleasant than many other antiviral herbs. Used topically, elderberry can be rubbed on the gyms to reduce inflammation. For cold and flu, elderberry can be taken four times daily (15ml) for 3-5 days. For constipation, it can be taken in 15mls diluted in 150ml of boiling water, three times a day for five days.

 

 

 

 

  1. Olive Leaf

Olive leaf extract is a polyphenol rich supplement that is well known for its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Although many of the studies have been conducted on animals, pre-clinical human studies are showing lots of promise as well.

Olive leaf is revered in Mediterranean diets but used medicinally olive leaf should be consumed as an extract. This essential oil is often found in a syrup form, often targeted at relief from the common cold, sore throats, or the flu virus.

What is Olive Leaf Used For?

  • Fights viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections
  • Boost the immune system
  • Destroys a wide range of pathogenic organisms
  • Stops the spread of pre-existing pathogenic organisms
  • Treats the common cold, candida, chronic fatigue, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia, HIV-1, gonorrhea, shingles, dental, ear, and urinary tract infections
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Olive leaf is a gentle herb that can be used without harming the good bacteria in the body. The dosage depends on what goal is trying to be achieved. A standard dose hovers between 500 and 750 mg per day. It can be found in liquid or capsule form.

  1. Astragalus Root

Astragalus root is revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its antiviral properties. It has been used for centuries to fight infection and boost the immune system. As an adaptogen, astragalus helps reinstate balance in the body. Topically, astragalus is known to help speed up the recovery of wounds.

What is Astragalus Root Used For?

  • Antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Fights the common cold, influenza, and herpes simplex virus
  • Adaptogenic qualities
  • Lowers cortisol
  • Heals wounds

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Astragalus root is best used as an extract, either in tinctured or dual-extracted powder form. A properly extracted powder can then be used to make tea or used topically by making a paste and covering the wound with gauze. Tinctures can be taken 1-4 drops twice a day in a glass of water. Astragalus root can be taken preventatively during cold and flu season to boost the immune system.

  1. Goldenseal

Although it can be slightly more expensive, goldenseal is a top contender for antiviral herbs. This herb contains an active ingredient called berberine that is a powerful antibacterial, viral, and parasitic agent.

What is Goldenseal Used For?

  • Antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties
  • Heals digestive disorders like gastritis, colitis, diarrhea, constipation, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, and gas
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Fights the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Goldenseal can be taken in capsule or tincture form but should be used mindfully. The berberine found in goldenseal kills bad bacteria but can also kill the good bacteria, so it should not be used for more than a week or two at a time. Used cyclically, goldenseal can offer powerful antiviral results. The dosage will vary wildly based on age, condition, health status, and other factors; follow the guidance of a funcitonal medicine practitioner. Avoid completely if pregnant.

  1. Cat’s Claw

Despite its name, cat’s claw does not actually come from cats. This powerful antiviral has been used by South Americans for centuries to treat a wide range of health problems. Today it can be found in tincture or raw form. In its natural state, cat’s claw resembled fine wood chips and has a surprisingly pleasant taste.

What is Cat’ Claw Used For?

  • Treat viral, parasitic, and bacterial infections
  • Is an antifungal and anti-inflammatory
  • Heals the digestive tract and leaky gut
  • Reduces fever
  • Treats stomach ulcers, arthritis, herpes, IBS, colitis, dysentery

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

This antiviral herb is best consumed as a tea. You can boil a teaspoon of cat’s claw in 16 oz of water for about 5-10 minutes, let it cool, and then drink like you would any tea. Applied topically, opt for a cat’s claw tincture, that you can then use directly on the skin (or combined with a cream or oil).

Calendula

Calendula comes from a flowering plant also known as marigold that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. The high flavonoid content of calendula provides the body with antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. You will often see calendula listed in natural topical creams and ointments due to its powerful skin and wound healing properties.

What is Calendula Used For?

  • Fight viral and bacterial infection
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Heals infections, cuts, wounds, and burns
  • Reduces damage caused by free radicals

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

There are various uses for calendula, all of which are best executed by following the directions on the product itself. Calendula can be used to treat ear infections, and dosage will depend on the strength of the products. Used topically, calendula can be applied (properly diluted) multiple times per day. This gentle herb does not boast any known side effects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Echinacea

Echinacea is a well-known all-star for cold and flu season, and for a good reason. This flower has a wide range of benefits that fight off the bad whilst helping support the good. This immune-boosting herb is often found as a tincture or in syrup form and can be taken preventatively or reactively for anything from signs of viral infection, to pain relief, and used topically to soothe the skin.

What is Echinacea Used For?

  • Fights viral and bacterial infections
  • Boots the immune system
  • Prevents bacteria and viruses from invading healthy cells
  • Relieves pain
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Soothes the skin
  • Treats upper respiratory tract infection
  • Controls blood sugar
  • Helps manage anxiety

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Echinacea can be used to make tea, as a tinctured extract, or used topically to heal skin irritation or wounds. Liquid tincture extracts can be taken up to 10ml per day, spread out in two to three doses.

  1. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is often known for its powerful effects to combat depression. Unlike many pharmaceutical anti-depressants, St. John’s Wort has no negative side effects, but it should be taken in conjuncture with the support and guidance of a functional medicine practitioner.

What is St. John’s Wort Used For?

  • Antiviral and bacterial
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Relieves depression

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

St. John’s Wort can be a powerful natural anti-depressant when used properly and in conjuncture with a healthy lifestyle. It can be taken as a liquid tincture or in capsules. A standard dose is approximately 300mg taken three times per day. Avoid using St. John’s Wort if you are currently taking an MAO or protease inhibitor.

  1. Licorice Root

Licorice root has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years for its antiviral properties. The triterpenoids in licorice root give it this medicinal quality. Since the root in raw form isn’t very bioavailable, it is best to consume licorice root as a tincture (generally extracted in alcohol).

What is Licorice Root Used For?

  • Potential benefits in treating influenza, HIV, and hepatitis C
  • Supports the female reproductive cycle
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Relieves sore throat and cough
  • Reduces adrenal fatigue
  • Relieves pain
  • Heals leaky gut
  • Reduces damage caused by free radicals

How to Use this Antiviral Herb

Depending on the reason for using licorice root, the dosage will vary. Follow the instructions on the bottle, and opt to use licorice root at the first sign of a throat infection. Using licorice root to support reproductive health should be done in conjuncture with a protocol tailored for you by a functional medicine practitioner.

Summary

Viral infections can be caught in various different ways. Although proper hygiene and mindful living can reduce exposures to such viruses, it is essentially impossible to avoid them altogether. The best defense is a strong immune system, which can be supported by the use of antiviral herbs.

Antiviral herbs will boost the immune system as well as help fight any signs of infection. Harnessing the power of these herbs enables the body to be resilient without the host of side effects caused by mainstream medical interventions. Since the properties of these herbs generally aren’t water-soluble, opt for tinctures to get the most benefits for your health.

 

NOTE: I’M NOT A DOCTOR, SO NONE OF THIS INFO SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR SEEKING CARE FROM A LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.