More than 5000 types of viruses are there that can cause serious diseases such as, the flu, the common cold, mononucleosis, hepatitis, HIV, and COVID-19. A virus is a small transferable agent that reproduces only within a living cell and can infect all forms of life, including microorganisms, animals, humans, and plants. A viral infection is usually seasonal and is often treated with medication. But, there are various herbs, which have antiviral properties and can be used in moderation if you are experiencing any of the diseases mentioned above. Antiviral herbs hinder the development of viruses. Most of these herbs boost the immune system, which enables the body to attack viral pathogens. This is better than attacking particular pathogens, which antiviral drugs are meant to do, as pathogens mutate over time and become less prone to treatment.
Apart from boosting the immune system, fighting viral infections, and working as natural flu remedies, they have several other health benefits, such as digestive, cardiovascular, and anti-inflammatory support.
Popular herbs that help fight viral infections
Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that can help fight numerous viral infections. As per research, it has been found that basil contains compounds like ursolic and apigenin acid, which is effective on enterovirus, hepatitis B, and herpes. Holy basil or tulsi is shown to increase immunity, which can help fight viral infections.
It has powerful antiviral, immune-boosting properties. Many studies state that elderberry can help to shorten the extent of cold symptoms. Another research states that daily elderberry extract works to enhance flu symptoms. The herb is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. It also contains an immunostimulant compound known as anthocyanidins. You can find elderberry at your local store. The most common forms are elderberry juice, syrup, and gummies.
This lemony plant is a member of the mint family. It is used in teas and has several medicinal qualities as well. A lemon balm extract has plant compounds and essential oils that have antiviral properties. Certain concentrations and mixtures containing lemon balm can be effective in treating the initial stages of herpes viruses. Herpes causes cold sores. Lemon balm is also effective against certain fungal and bacterial infections in humans. This herb inhibits in vitro growth of the viruses that cause myxoviruses, influenza, and herpes simplex.
As per recent research, it has been found that regular use of echinacea is helpful for overall health and immune support. There is substantial evidence suggesting that phytochemicals in echinacea can reduce tumors and virus infections. Echinacea is the most powerful natural antivirals against human viruses. It contains echinacein that hinders viruses and bacteria from getting into healthy cells. This herb reduces the probability of contracting any type of infection.
Apart from this, echinacea reduces inflammation, alleviates pain, enhances skin problems, treats upper respiratory problems, and improves mental health.
It is another great antiviral herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for ages, and its primary use is to improve the body’s immune system. Scientific studies have shown that astragalus may help remedy the common cold and flu. Apart from working as a natural viral infection treatment, astragalus also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and it is used on the skin for wound care. It is also an adaptogen herb that lowers cortisol.
Peppermint has great antiviral qualities and usually added to extracts, tinctures, and teas meant to cure viral infections naturally. The various parts of this plant contain active components, including rosmarinic acid and menthol, which have antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity.
This fragrant herb is used in traditional medicine to treat viral infections. The antiviral properties of sage are accredited mostly to compounds called sage one and safficinolide, which are found in the stem and leaves of the plant. As per a study, it has been found that this herb can fight HIV type 1, which can lead to AIDS.
It is commonly used in preparing dishes but has therapeutic applications because of its several plant compounds, such as oleanolic acid. Oleanolic acid has exhibited antiviral activity against HIV, herpes viruses, influenza, and hepatitis. Also, rosemary extract has demonstrated antiviral effects against hepatitis A and herpes viruses, which affect the liver.
How to use Antiviral herbs?
Use these herbs to prepare herbal tea or add a few drops of essential oil in the diffuser to reap its health benefits.
- Tea: Herbal teas are easy to make. To make herbal tea, steep 1 tbsp. of antiviral herbs in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. For kids, use 1 tsp. herbs in the same amount of water.
- Infusion: Herbal infusions are antiviral herbs prepared in water. They use more quantities of herbs to make a more intense preparation. The herbs are steeped in water for hours in a tightly sealed jar. Once prepared, you can drink them heated or iced, include them to baths for sore muscles or to heal wounds, or use it to make compresses.
- Infused Oil: Creating infused oil is easy. You will need:
1) Cheesecloth or strainer,
2) Ovenproof dish,
3) 1/2 cup of antiviral herbs,
4) 1 cup Coconut or Jojoba oil,
5) Clean, dry container(s) to store your oil in
Heat your oven and then switch it off. In the ovenproof dish, add the herbs and oil and then stir them together. Place the dish in the oven. After a couple of hours, remove the herbs and strain the oil into your container(s). Label and keep the container in a dark, cool place.
Herbs such as sage, basil, and rosemary, as well as uncommon herbs like echinacea and astragalus, have strong antiviral effects against several viruses that cause infections in humans. It is easy to add these herbs to your diet by using them in your favorite recipes or preparing them into teas.
However, remember that most research has been done in test tubes and animals using concentrated extracts. Thus, it is unclear whether small doses of these antiviral herbs would have the same effects. If you plan to supplement with tinctures, extracts, or other herbal products, talk with your doctor to ensure safe usage.