By Rosie Main
What are antiviral herbs? Antiviral herbs inhibit the development of viruses. Many antiviral herbs boost the immune system, which allows the body to attack viral pathogens. This can be even better than attacking specific pathogens, which antiviral drugs are designed to do, because pathogens mutate over time and become less susceptible to treatment.
Not only do antiviral herbs fight viral infections, boost the immune system and work as natural remedies, but they have a number of other health benefits, such as cardiovascular, digestive and anti-inflammatory support.
Top Antiviral Herbs
- Elderberry –Elderberry has a long, rich history of use for medicinal benefits in numerous cultures. It fights infections including influenza, herpes, viral infections and bacterial infections. A study published in theJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that elderberry can be used as a safe treatment for influenza A and B. This is due to its efficacy on all strains of influenza virus that were tested, the clinical results, its low cost and the absence of side effects.
Most every part of the elderberry can be used – the flowers, bark, roots and leaves are often used for their amazing health benefits. So discover elderberry benefits for your health today.
- Echinacea –Echinacea has become one of the top-selling herbs of all time. That’s because regular use of echinacea is beneficial for immune support and overall health. There is considerable evidence suggesting that phytochemicals in echinacea have the capacity to reduce virus infections and tumors. This powerful herb contains a compound calledechinacein that inhibits bacteria and viruses from penetrating healthy cells. This greatly reduces the chances of contracting any type of infection while consuming echinacea.
More echinacea benefits include its ability to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, improve skin problems, treat upper respiratory issues, and improve mental health.
- Calendula –The flower petals of the calendulaplant, which is sometimes called pot marigold, have been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. This antiviral herb has high amounts of flavonoids, which are plant-based antioxidants that protect cells from being damaged by free radicals; it also fights viruses, inflammation and bacteria. The dried petals of the plant are used in tinctures, ointments and washes to treat infections, burns, wounds and to heal cuts quickly.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ear drops containing calendula are sometimes used to treat ear infections in children, and scientific studies have found no side effects.
- Garlic –Experiments have shown that garlic – or specific chemical compounds found in garlic – is highly effective at killing countless microorganisms responsible forsome of the most common and rarest infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, thrush and herpes. Because of its antiviral properties, garlic can be used to treat eye infections and as a natural ear infection remedy.
More raw garlic benefits include its ability to reduce the risk of cancer, control hypertension, boost cardiovascular health, and fight hair loss.
To make a garlic oil infusion at home, crush garlic cloves and add them to a carrier oil (like olive oil). Let the mixture sit for about five hours and then strain the bits of garlic and keep the oil in a jar with a lid. You can also swallow a raw clove of garlic; you might need to cut it in half if it’s too large. Bite down once to release the allicin, then swallow with water like a pill.
- Astragalus Root –Astragalus root, another powerful antiviral herb, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and its main use is to boost the body’s immune system. Scientific studies have shown that astragalus has antiviral properties and stimulates the immune system, suggesting that it may help prevent the common cold or flu. A 2004 study evaluated the effects of astragalus on herpes simplex virus type 1and found that the herb has obvious inhibiting efficacy. Another study published in the Chinese Medical Sciences Journal concluded that astragalus is able to inhibit the growth of coxsackie B virus in mice. Astragalus also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is used on the skin for wound care. It’s also one of the adaptogen herbs to lower cortisol.
- Cat’s Claw –The bark and root of cat’s clawhave been used by South Americans for centuries to treat health problems, including fevers, stomach ulcers, digestive conditions and dysentery. Cat’s claw works as a natural arthritis remedy and treats ulcer symptoms as well.
Cat’s claw has antiviral properties, and it can help get rid of herpes. Early studies are researching its effects on HIV as well.
This powerful herb is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal. It’s used to treat digestive problems such as ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and leaky gut syndrome. The best way to consume cat’s claw regularly is by making an herbal tea with a tablespoon of the herb in eight ounces of water.
- Licorice Root–Licorice is emerging as a prominent player in the search for treatment and prevention for diseases like hepatitis C, HIV and influenza. The Chinese Journal of Virology published a review that confirms the antiviral activity of licorice root due to its triterpenoid content. Another 2010 publication notes licorice’s antioxidant, free radical-scavenging and immunostimulating effects.
More licorice root benefits include:
- Sore throat remedy for fast relief
- Cough natural remedy
- Protection againstleaky gut signs and symptoms
- Heals adrenal fatigue
- Pain relief
- Olive Leaf –Theolive leaf has antiviral properties, giving it the ability to treat the common cold and dangerous viruses, including candida symptoms, meningitis, pneumonia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis B, malaria, gonorrhea and tuberculosis; it also treats dental, ear and urinary tract infections and is a natural treatment for shingles.
Research shows that olive leaf extracts effectively fight against a number of disease-causing microbes, including some viruses that cause influenza and other respiratory infections. The powerful compounds found in olive leaves destroy invading organisms and don’t allow viruses to replicate and cause an infection. In fact, the olive leaf is so beneficial to our health that treatment with olive leaf extracts reversed many HIV-1 infection-associated changes in a study done at the New York University School of Medicine.
- Oregano –Medicinal grade oregano is distilled to extract the essential oil and preserve its healing compounds; in fact, it takes over 1,000 pounds of wild oregano to produce just 1 pound of oregano oil.
Oregano oil benefits are proving to be superior to some antibiotics, without the harmful side effects. That’s because oregano contains two powerful compounds – carvacrol and thymol – that have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s the carvacrol that reverses viral infections, as well as allergies, tumors, parasites and disease-causing inflammation. Doubting the power of this antiviral herb? Well, there are over 800 scientific studies that reference carvacrol and its amazing health benefits.
Rosie Main, D.C., owns Main Health Solutions at 2300 W. Everest Lane, Suite 175, in Meridian. She is also the host of Maximized Living Radio on 94.1 The Voice and KIDO 580 AM. For more information, visit MaximizedLivingDrMain.com.