Fighting a cold or suffering from the flu? Reach for one of these antiviral herbs and kick congestion to the curb. And, yes – I’m talking about the same herbs that you’ll find in your kitchen cabinet or down the aisle of your local supermarket. These powerful herbs offer a natural alternative to over-the-counter cold and flu medications, supporting a speedy recovery without all the nasty side effects. Here are 12 antiviral herbs that boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and fight infection.
Oregano contains carvacol, a powerful compound with antiviral properties. Carvacol reverses viral infections, infections, tumors, parasites, and even chronic inflammation.
Although relatively uncommon in America, the bark and root of cat’s claw is widely used by South American communities to treat a variety of illnesses. The antiviral properties of cat’s claw are effective in treating cold sores, and emerging research on HIV treatment is promising. This herb also has anti-inflammatory properties, relieving symptoms of common digestive disorders, like stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
This amazing herb has numerous benefits. Garlic contains acillin, a chemical compound that kills a wide variety of bacterial and viral infections. Studies have demonstrated that garlic extract is effective against the flu, CMV, herpes, viral pneumonia and even HIV. More research is needed on the specific antiviral properties of garlic, but emerging studies are encouraging.
Licorice root is quickly becoming a popular research topic in the search for treatment of viral diseases, like HIV, influenza and hepatitis. Licorice root contains triterpenoid, a potent antioxidant that boosts immune function. Licorice also provides protection against leaky gut syndrome and provides mild pain relief.
This herb is one of the top-selling supplements across the globe. The phytochemicals in echinacea are potent immune boosters, fighting off viral infection and reducing tumor size. This herb also has the capability to alleviate pain, improve skin and reduce chronic inflammation.
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, known to have a variety of health benefits, including improved digestion and sleep. This herb contains tannins, compounds with antiviral properties that reduce the severity of cold sores. Preliminary studies of lemon balm against HIV are also encouraging.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, has been used as a medicinal remedy since the 12the Century. This herb contains high levels of flavonoids, potent antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage and fight viral infection. Dried calendula petals are also common in ointments and tinctures used to treat woulds and burns.
Dating back to traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus root has long been used to treat the common cold and flu symptoms. It has strong antiviral properties that stimulate the immune system and inhibit viral growth. It is particularly effective in treating hand-foot-and-mouth disease and reducing cold sores.
This herb has long been used to treat fever and congestion. Elderberry is so effective at reduce cold and flu symptoms, that the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine identified elderberry as a safe, natural treatment for influenza. Elderberry stimulates the immune system and inhibits viral growth, alleviating common flu symptoms.
Olive leaf contains oleuropein, a powerful antiviral compound effective in treating a variety of viruses, like hepatitis, herpes, mononucleosis, rotavirus, and influenza. Emerging research also suggests that olive leaf has antiviral activity against HIV infection and replication within the body.
The most obscure herb of the bunch, mullein has been used medicinally since ancient times. An oil made from the flowers of the mullein plant, this herb is used to treat pain, reduce inflammation, and fight against common viruses that cause colds, the flu and herpes. Mullein may also help relieve dry cough and congestion from respiratory viruses.
Ginger is a known immune booster that supports the lymphatic system as it flushes toxins from the body. These toxins make the body susceptible to invasion from nasty viruses. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties, reducing chronic, widespread inflammation that leads to disorders, like arthritis, seasonal allergies and chronic fatigue.