As humans, we can often be quite short-sighted. We do not like to think about the end and this sometimes gives us a feeling of invincibility. However, the truth is, we are vulnerable in so many ways. Natural disasters, climate change, wars, food shortages, disease. So much is out of our control and out of our sight until we are forced to confront it. And yet, humans are incredibly resilient. We are able to overcome hardships and are able to find solutions to many of our problems in really creative ways. We also have nature to guide us in many situations.
The truth is, we should always be advocating for our own wellness. We should always take care of our health, our bodies, and our minds to the best of our abilities, whether there is an imminent threat or whether we are well. Invest in your health. It matters. You matter!
One of the best ways to invest in your health and wellness is to support and strengthen your body’s natural ability to heal and to maintain homeostasis. Your body is always trying to bring you back into balance and when we are out of balance, because of illness, disease, pathogens and other factors, our immune system is the first line of defense. It is also really important to take care of your gut with broths, probiotics and fermented foods and whole fruits and vegetables.
So with all the uncertainty around COVID-19, the best thing you can do is to strengthen your inner defenses to do the job, they are made to do. Antiviral herbs inhibit the development of viruses. Many of the best antiviral herbs boost the immune system which allows the body to attack viral pathogens. This can be even better than attacking specific pathogens, which antiviral drugs are designed to do, because pathogens mutate over time and become less susceptible to treatment.
Not only do antiviral herbs fight viral infections, boost the immune system and work as natural flu remedies, they have a number of other health benefits, such as being cardioprotective, liver protective, brain-protective, digestive aids, rich in antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory tonics.
Here are some anti-virals to help you along the way:
Elderberry - Studies have shown that people infected with influenza virus A and B experienced 91 percent improvement after taking elderberry for seven days, while also reducing their fevers and increasing their feelings of improvement. Elderberry will boost your immune system and activate the cells that fight infections.
Ginger Root - Ginger root is an excellent remedy for nausea and upset stomach that often comes when fighting a virus but, it also wages war against the virus itself. It does this by blocking the attachment of viruses to areas that are commonly infected first, like your airways. Keep in mind that many of the studies showing ginger’s effectiveness use fresh ginger rather than dried.
Garlic - Garlic has a long history of use when it comes to infections. Some of these uses included using garlic as a treatment for leprosy, parasitic infections, and as an antibiotic for infectious diseases. Today, garlic’s reputation as a potent antimicrobial is well-known. Studies have shown that it has the ability to combat the flu virus, the common head cold virus, HIV, and pneumonia, just to name a few.
Astragalus - A very popular adaptogen used since ancient times for its highly protective and immune protective properties. More modern research has revealed Astragalus to contain natural antiviral properties suggesting that it may help prevent colds and similar viral infections. Astragalus is also used within Traditional Chinese Medicine to increase endurance, and resistance to a wide range of stressors (biological, chemical, physical, mental, etc.) helping the endocrine system directly curb the damaging effects to a variety of pathogens.
Echinacea - Echinacea is one of the most popular antiviral herbs on the market when it comes to fighting viruses and bacteria- and for good reason. Not only does it have the ability to boost your immune system by stimulating the production of cells to help fight infections, but it also contains phytochemicals that fight and help reduce infections once they occur.
Reishi - Reishi is regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. The health benefits of Reishi include control of blood glucose levels, modulation of the immune system, hepatoprotection (liver protection), bacteriostasis, and more. And it’s standardized extracts of the broken cell wall mushrooms have shown to have the highest absorbable rate of its bioactive compounds, including increasing its antiviral and antimicrobial activity.
Chaga - Chaga is most well-known actions for its antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ability. In one study, the water-based extract of chaga exhibited antiviral activity against the hepatitis C virus,5 while another study reported 100% inhibition of the external surface of fungus against two strains of the human influenza virus (A and B). The scientists postulated that the observed antiviral activity is due to three main active components: betulin, lupeol and mycosterols. Water extract of Chaga had anti-herpes simplex virus activity in two in vitro assays, through inhibition of viral-induced membrane fusion in the early stage of viral infection. In other studies, both water and alcohol extracts display superoxide dismutase (SOD) – type activity in scavenging free radicals.
Siberian Ginseng - Also known as 'Eleuthero', has been used for centuries in Eastern countries, and is one of the most studied and widely used anti-virals in the world. Eleutherosides, one of the active components, are reported to stimulate the production of interferon (a protein that inhibits virus replication) and enhance natural killer (NK) cells and antibody activity. Eleuthero is a nutrient-dense root, that also contains a mega load of polysaccharides, a vital component within many medicinal plants, that are renowned to boost the immune system and lower blood sugar levels. Siberian ginseng is a classic within eastern traditions, as it has been successfully used for over 2,000 years to beat infections and assist respiratory diseases, including the common cold and flu.
Turmeric - curcumin mediates its antiviral activity through diverse mechanisms including supporting the immune system and weakening the virus through different mechanisms. curcumin exhibited antiviral properties against several viruses, including dengue virus and hepatitis C virus, among others.
Oregano - Specifically oregano essential oil contains significant antiviral properties. Studies show its active component, carvacrol, can deactivate viruses like human norovirus (sometimes referred to as the “vomit bug”) within one hour of contact. In addition, Mexican oregano oil has been shown to be effective against viruses like acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus type 1 and human respiratory syncytial virus.
The truth is, we should be caring for our health in this way on a regular and daily basis. Viruses such as Covid-19, expose our vulnerability and kick us into action, but when we are healthy and resilient, we are less susceptible to catch whatever is going around and to handle it better if we do catch it. So stay healthy friends!!