Runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, and difficulty breathing are all symptoms that could point to a viral infection. Unlike bacterial infections, they can't be treated with medications like antibiotics, but there are some herbs that can help with prevention and potentially speed the healing process of a viral infection. Since ancient times, herbs have been used as natural treatments for various viral infections due to their concentration of potent plant compounds.
If you are unsure on what a viral infection is and where to begin on your journey of supplementing antiviral herbs, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive a little deeper.
Viral infections occur when there is an increase of a harmful virus activity inside your body. Viruses cannot reproduce without the assistance of a host. Viruses infect a host by introducing their genetic material into the cells and hijacking the cell to make more virus particles. Viruses can affect many areas within the body, including the reproductive, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. They can also affect the liver, brain, and skin. Some examples of the most common viral infections are: common cold, influenza, chickenpox, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), COVID-19, Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) or 2 (HSV-2).
Boosting the body’s natural immune response is fundamental at keeping viral infections at bay, but also recovering quickly from viruses. Let’s look at ways that we can use nature’s powerful antiviral herbs to keep you healthy.
Pau D’ Arco is a herbal supplement made from the inner bark of several species of Tabebuia trees that grow in the Amazonian rainforests of Brazil as well as rainforests of Central and South America. The supplement promotes normal “coughing up” by the lungs in order to free mucus and contaminants that had been lodged there. In herbal medicine, the bark has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Now widely available in dietary supplement form, pau d'arco extract contains a potent antioxidant known as quercetin. Pau d'arco is also rich in plant-based compounds that have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects.
Lomatium dissectum is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family known by the common names fernleaf biscuitroot and fern leaf desert parsley. Lomatium is useful in acute and chronic viral, bacterial, fungal infections and other inflammatory disorders of the respiratory system. This Native American herb was presented to Dr. Ernst Krebs to help save lives during the 1918 Viral Influenza epidemic. Krebs was cited for saving 40,000 lives in the Carson, Nevada and San Francisco Bay area. Studied by several universities, lomatium was labeled the ‘herbal penicillin’ in the early 1950s.
Elderberries are powerful bioflavonoids – naturally occurring compounds that are notorious for their anti-viral and antioxidant aid. Studies explored the effects of elderberries on immunity and indicated that these berries improve immune function. Scientists have shown these fruits may offer important respiratory protective properties by helping to expel stuck mucus/phlegm from the lungs. The fruit of the elderberry plant is usually sold as a syrup or in dried fruits (that can be made into a syrup at home by adding dried elderberries, raw honey and boiling water). The flower itself can also be consumed as a healthful tea.
Another great antiviral plant is Green Tea. Green tea has been used in traditional medicines for thousands of years for its multiple health benefits, particularly as a strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Recent studies have suggested this herb contains antiviral capacities against a broad range of viruses. Green Tea can be enjoyed as a tea or taken as a dietary supplement for an extra health boost.
Ginger is one of the most commonly consumed dietary condiments in the world. It is stated to enhance digestion, kill pathogens, and strengthen immunity.
Turmeric — and especially its most active compound, curcumin — have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer’s and cancer. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Echinacea contains anti-viral properties, especially improving respiratory health. Native Americans have used this herb for centuries to treat various ailments.Today, it’s best known as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold or flu.
In addition to being an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb, Cat's Claw is also known for boosting the immune system and increasing your body's protection against illness. It can be taken as a tea or capsule.
Your immune system’s job is to defend against diseases. Its goal is to keep us healthy. The immune system is a large and complex network of many different organs, cells and proteins that work together to protect the body from illness. A healthy immune system can defeat bacteria, viruses, parasites—as well as cancer cells—while protecting healthy tissue. Adding various antiviral herbs to your immune boosting arsenal may be the missing component and game changer for your overall immune health.
Before using antiviral herbs, it is suggested that you consult a holistic doctor for exact dosing instructions and guidance. Your body is unique and your specific needs will likely be unique as well.