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Natural Antiviral Herbs

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There are hundreds of plants used all over the world, which are used in herbal medicine as treatments for viral infections. Here are some of the most accessible and reliable.

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Astragalus (astragalus membranaceus) : has been in the Chinese Materia Medica for centuries and has shown to have immune boosting properties. This classic energy tonic has a warming and toning effect. Although not used as a treatment for acute illnesses, astragalus is believed to be very useful as an herbal remedy for treating viral infections, including those that cause the common cold and flu.

Echinacea (eucalyptus globulus): has long been used as an antiviral remedy for colds and flu. It appears to work by boosting production of interferon, the body’s own antiviral fighter, as well as, stimulating infection-fighting white blood cells. Echinacea has three compounds, which are chicoric acid, caffeic acid, and echinacin. These three compounds have specific antiviral properties that can resist viruses.

Forsythia (Forsythia suspensa) and Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) are the top choice in the Chinese Materia Medica for addressing heat toxins. Often used together, these flowers are the main ingredient in a formula called Yin Qiao San for treating viruses causing upper respiratory infections.

Garlic (allium sativum): Compounds that are rich in sulfur content are found in abundance in garlic and are active against the virus responsible for flu. These sulfur-based compounds have shown to be effective in clinical studies. A similar but less effective antiviral action is also found in the common onion, which is a close relative of the garlic plant.

Ginger (zingiber officinale): Phenolic compounds are responsible for relaxing the muscles of the stomach, and explains ginger’s effect in easing motion sickness. Fresh or dried, the root has been shown to minimize vomiting. In addition, the phenolic ingredients act within the stomach as a sedative and painkiller, which helps to reduce over-activity of the gut. In stomach infections, the oil acts as an antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory. The gingerols alone are thought to be responsible for ginger’s action as a liver protective.

Goldenseal (hydrastis canadensis): Berberine is the active compound in goldenseal that stimulates the immune system. douche of goldenseal is excellent for reducing yeast infection. Berberine increases blood flow to the spleen and stimulate the activity of macrophages, blood cells that are an important part of the immune system.

Licorice (glycyrrhiza glabra): also used for centuries and found in the Chinese Materia Medica, this herb’s potent antiviral action works against a wide range of viral agents. With eight active antiviral compounds, the most recognized being glycyrrhizin, these compounds inhibit as well as block the viral penetration of the body’s cells and the multiplication of genetic material from the viral particle.

Milk Thistle (silybum marinum): is the top choice for all kinds of liver disorders such as hepatitis, cirrhosis as well as mushroom poisoning. Silymarin, the active ingredient, is also helpful in gall bladder disease.

Sangre de Drago or Dragon’s Blood (croton lechleri): The antiviral properties of this herb have shown to help with viral sores caused during infection from the herpes virus. The compounds in this herb, including ds taspine and dimethylcedrusine have the ability to heal wounds and are have antiviral properties.

Essential Oils with Antiviral Properties

Use these oils externally by blending a few drops into a base oil of vegetable, sunflower, safflower or canola oils and massage into pulse points, chest, tops of feet and wrists. Do not digest these oils internally. Tea tree can be added to a half a cup of warm water and gargled then spit out for treating sore throats.

Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus): this oil has compounds which include quercitrin, hyperoside, and tannic acid, which help eliminate viruses.

Juniper (juniperus): has an antiviral agent. Juniper contains a potent antiviral compound called deoxypodophyllotoxi n. The herpes viruse, flu and many other types of viruses seem to be inhibited by extracts from juniper.

Lemon Balm (melissa officinalis) : is a potent inhibitor on the herpes virus, among other viruses that lead to infection.

Tea Tree Oil (melaleuca alternifolia) : used for everything from earache to athlete’s foot, as well as gum inflammation and skin infections, this antiviral oil can be applied directly to an infected area, three times daily. Tea tree can be added to a half a cup of warm water and gargled then spit out for treating sore throats.

Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac - - Therapies for healing mind, body, spirit

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