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Antiviral Herbs for Supporting Well-Being

written by: BStone • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 1/5/2011

Learn about the best herbs to use to protect your body from an infection with this list of antiviral herbs.

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    Boost Your Body's Defenses

    Herbs that can help the body resist an infection are an invaluable medicinal resource. An attack on the body by virus organisms can be very difficult to defend against, especially in cases of a weakened immune system. Anything from stress to the excessive use of antibiotics can lower the body's defenses against harmful pathogens. Antiviral herbs can help the body resist these microorganisms. Some are well-suited for consistent use while dealing with an infection and others can be used both as a form of treatment but also as a preventative measure.

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    List of Herbal Remedies to Consider

    echinacea The following herbs have antiviral properties.

    • Garlic is one of the best herbs to use to boost the immune system and to fight viral infections. It is an effective anti-microbial plant which also has a beneficial effect on the entire body, from the circulatory to the digestive system. To treat an infection eat fresh, raw garlic one to three times a day or take garlic capsules. To prevent illness try consuming or supplementing with garlic on a regular basis.
    • Myrrh acts to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which defend the body from pathogens. It also has anti-microbial properties, acting against virus and bacterial organisms. With this herb it is the resin that carries the medicinal properties, making an herbal tincture the easiest way to take this herb. While treating an infection take a dose of the tincture up to three times a day. Myrrh combines well with echinacea.
    • Echinacea is one of the most popular immune-boosting herbs. It is very useful for both bacterial and viral infections and works well with any other antiviral plant to enhance the effect. To make a tea from echinacea add one teaspoonful of the dried root in one cup of water. Slowly bring to a boil and then simmer for ten minutes. Echinacea tea can also be purchased in most health food stores in bagged tea form. Drink up to three cups daily. An echinacea tincture is just as effective, again taking no more than three doses a day.
    • Nasturtium is a potent herb that can protect the body from infections. Its only benefit is being anti-microbial. As the fresh plant is most effective, unless you have nasturtium growing in your herb garden to make a tea, an herbal tincture is the most practical way to take this herb.
    • Thyme is a strong anti-microbial, antiseptic herb. It also has diaphoretic properties, helping to eliminate toxins through sweating, and dried thyme expectorant properties, acting to expel mucus. To make a thyme infusion steep two teaspoons of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Drink three cups daily.
    • Olive leaf extract is useful for all type of viruses, as well as bacteria, fungi, and parasites. It can be used to boost the immune system and strengthen the body as both a preventative measure from viral infections or to help treat infections.

    These antiviral herbs can be used to safely and effectively help the body overcome an infection. They will not have much of an effect when taken for one or two days, but using them for one to two weeks can assist the body in resisting pathogens. Consider adding them to your diet before flu season or at any other time that you may be susceptible to an infection, or take them when sick to more efficiently overcome the infection. All of these herbs are safe for general use but it is important to talk to your doctor about your health care choices.

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    References

    Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

    Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).

    Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).

    photo by David Light

    photo by Daniel 78