Not many of us manage to get through a year without contracting at least one viral infection, most commonly in the form of colds or ‘flu. Modern medicine can be of little assistance – antibiotics can fight bacteria but not viruses. Most of the time we just put up with it but where modern medicine has failed us, traditional and herbal medicines may not. There are many natural antiviral herbs which, according to research, are able to both prevent and combat viral infections.
Most people tend to think of herbs in the culinary sense but where herbal remedies are concerned the word ‘herb’ denotes any plant with medicinal properties and may include leaves, roots, flowers or bark. Many of these remedies have ancient traditions of uses in cultures which cover the globe from end to end.
Viral infections have different stages to their development, initially by infiltrating the body and attaching themselves to a host cell. They then get to work replicating themselves and then sally forth to infect new cells. Anti-viral herbs work on two different levels – they will interfere with the replication cycle of the virus thus inhibiting further infection and they will also stimulate the body to raise its natural killer cells army, so boosting the immune system to such a level that it overpowers the invaders. Let’s look at some of the best herbal antiviral alternatives.
List of Best Antiviral Herbs
The following is a list of some of the best anti-viral herbs but it is in no way complete. Many herbs, which are better known for certain other healing qualities, also have anti-viral properties.
1.) Echinacea – cited by herbalists and medical professionals as the number one anti-viral herb. It seems to be particularly effective for cold and flu viruses, working as a powerful immune system booster and helping to increase the body’s white cell production. Echinacea is what is known as an adaptogenic herb – those which naturally increase the body’s resistance to stress and thereby enhance the immune system.
2.) Garlic – practically a wonder plant from the point of view of its many properties which work to powerfully defend the body through anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic actions. Fresh garlic is considered the most effective anti-viral but many people prefer taking garlic in the form of supplement capsules to avoid the smell.
3.) Goldenseal – the goldenseal herb works to stimulate the immune system and is often used in conjunction with other anti-viral herbs.
4.) Lemon balm – this in one of those herbs which work to inhibit viral reproduction and thus prevent the spread of the virus. Lemon balm has proved to be very effective for the treatment of herpes simplex, a virus responsible for oral (cold sores) and genital herpes.
5.) Oregano – oil of oregano is little less than a miracle cure-all with powerful antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties. The oregano that you will find amongst the herbs and spices at your local supermarket will be of little use here though. Not only is it often mislabeled but it doesn’t contain the necessary active ingredients that wild oregano has.
6.) Siberian Ginseng – this plant is not actually a true ginseng but nonetheless has many beneficial properties, one of which is its ability to enhance the immune system due to the polysaccharides it contains.
Other natural antiviral herbs which are useful in combating viruses are juniper, peppermint, astragalus, licorice and burdock.
Herbalists recommend combining the anti-viral herbs with one of the immune system boosting herbs for the most powerful medicines and both need to be enhanced by a nutritionally rich and balanced diet.
Most, if not all, of the natural antiviral herbs listed here are available in a variety of forms – powder, capsule, tincture, pill and so on – through pharmacies, health food stores, mail order and through the Internet. Many of them are also available in the form of herbal antiviral tea.