The Best Antiviral Herbs for the Common Cold, Flu, Cold Sores, and More
Viruses are not new to humankind, but fortunately, nature also holds the solution.
The good news is we DON’T have to wait around, wringing our hands, waiting for a vaccine for each and every one. Something that hasn’t gained much traction through the COVID pandemic, but what many herbalists and naturalists around the world know, is that herbal medicine is the best way to combat a virus.
Herbs support your innate immune response including your white blood cells, adrenal glands, lymphatic drainage, spleen, marrow, etc. Vaccines only cover one part of the immune response, the antibodies created in defense of the virus, which is just a small part of the overall immune response picture. Herbs, lifestyle (rest, nutrition), nutrition, and general wellness cover the other 90%.
Some herbs help PREVENT AND RECOVER from viral infection and others can help your body KILL viruses.
Certain herbs effect the adrenal glands (those are your cortisol and other hormone-producing glands) are proven anti-virals in their ability to protect your body from viral infection. In Chinese medicine, we say they “protect your Qi.”
Your protective Qi is like armor from pathogens. Even though thousands of years ago they didn’t know WHY these herbs had that effect, modern science has proven them correct. They’re classified as “Adaptogens.”
In addition to being anti-viral, the herbs are also protective of the organs and are anti-inflammatory in nature. So, basically, none of those nasty drug-induced side-effects. They help your organs work better, so your innate immune cells can do their function better.
Here are some VIRAL PROTECTIVE AND RECOVERY HERBS.
Of course, always consult with a licensed herbalist before prescribing yourself any type of herbal formula.
1. Astragalus – safe for almost everyone, but it also gives you energy, so be cautious if you have anxiety or insomnia. 1-2 grams per day is a minimal dose. It’s good to combine Astragalus with other herbs to balance out the formula. It's safe in low dosages for pregnancy.
2. Echinacea – safe for almost everyone, including pregnant or nursing mothers. 2 grams a day provides a minimal protective dose for most adults.
3. St. John’s Wort – (not recommended if you’re on medication for depression) 2 grams per day is helpful for depression as well as viral protection.
4. Licorice – (not for use if you have fluid retention, pregnant, on medication for hypertension, or have high blood pressure) Licorice extract is taken in a low dose, about 1/2 gram per day. It's good for digestion, viral protection, and cough.
5. Ginseng – similar to Astragalus.
6. Holy Basil – also helps with stress-regulation. Works best when combined in an herbal formula designed for your constitution. 2 grams per day is a typical dose.
Since the viral protective herbs are also helping your adrenal gland function, they help with energy and the effects of stress.
These herbs are recommended when you’re in the midst of a viral infection:
1. Andrographis – 4-6 grams per day of infection. To be combined with other herbs like licorice and echinacea for best effect. Do not exceed 7 days of use in a row.
2. Wormwood (Artemisia) – one of the best anti-viral herbs available. Use 2 grams per day, not to exceed 10 days in a row. Typical dose for long-term viral issues is 6 weeks, with a rotation of 10 days on and 10 days off.
These herbs are rarely taken in isolation. Herbalists typically combine the herbs into a balanced formula designed specifically for YOU. The other herbs in the formula support the anti-viral effects of the main herb. They also help with other issues such as expelling phlegm, stopping a cough, or helping with stress regulation.
Also important in the recovery from viral infection is calcium. A good quality calcium – calcium lactate is the most readily absorbable form – induces activity from your immune cells. Calcium needs healthy fats for absorption, so take it with a good fish oil. Fish oil usually has other immune-boosting nutritions as well that prove helpful in these times: Vitamin D and A.
For kids, I recommend a product from Standard Process called Congaplex. It has a bunch of whole food ingredients including calcium, thymus gland extract for moving lymph, carrot, alfalfa, sweet potato, buckwheat juice, mushroom, adrenal extract, and bone. It's a chewable, but your kids won't taste what it's made out of, haha. It's flavored with raspberry powder. For dosage, take 1 tablet per 10 pounds of the child's weight, up to 3 times per day. You can also take just 1 tablet every hour.
Vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A, and zinc are necessary for proper immune function and recovery (and prevention) from illness. The best sources are foods:
1. Fruits and veggies
2. Beans, nuts, whole grains
3. Seafood and organ meats
4. Raw dairy
When it comes to warding off illness, there are other factors to consider as well:
- the quality of your sleep
- "cold invasion" (a TCM concept - keep the back of your neck warm and dry; wear socks or slippers at home; and avoid eating too much cold or raw food)
- stress factors
Stay well, my friends!
Please forward this to anyone you think could use some help with their immune system.
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