Unlike prescription medicines, whose list of potential side effects are often longer than their list of benefits, antiviral herbs often have little to no side effects. Most of us naturally keep many classic antiviral herbs stocked in our pantries as they tend to be highly aromatic and exquisite for cooking. Many of the classics, such as oregano and garlic, can be traced back as early as Ancient Egypt and China, and were acknowledged as powerful medicines. [R, R]
These herbs are great for overall resilience. You don’t have to necessarily have a reason to take them as they’re great for general maintenance to keep the body strong and protected. These herbs are nutrient dense while operating like a natural antibiotic, boosting or modulating the immune system, and assisting in whole body defense. Some of them, like Reishi, actually potentiate the effect of antibiotics, while continuing to protect the body non-specifically, even helping with stress relief.
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WHY HERBAL ANTIVIRALS
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As traditional medications become less effective against today’s potent and aggressive viruses, natural alternatives are proving capable of fighting off many common viral threats. Viral infections play an important role in human diseases, and recent outbreaks in the advent of globalization and ease of travel have underscored their prevention as a critical issue in safeguarding public health. Despite the progress made in immunization and drug development, many viruses lack preventive vaccines and efficient antiviral therapies, which are often beset by the generation of viral escape mutants. Thus, identifying novel antiviral drugs is of critical importance and natural products are an excellent source for such discoveries. In this mini-review, we summarize the antiviral effects reported for several natural products and herbal medicines. R
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 cardio protective, liver protective, brain protective, digestive aids, rich in antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory tonics.
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TOP 15 HERBS TO HACK VIRUSES
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1. CATS CLAW - The bark and root of cat’s claw have been used by Central and South Americans for centuries to treat health problems including fevers, stomach ulcers, digestive conditions and dysentery. Cat’s claw is used as a natural arthritis remedy and may treat ulcer symptoms as well. Cat’s claw has antiviral properties, and it can help get rid of herpes. Early studies are researching its effects on HIV as well. This powerful herb is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. It’s used to treat digestive problems such as ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and leaky gut syndrome. (You can find this powerhouse in our Blood Tonic)
2. CALENDULA - Calendula flower has been shown to fight viruses like rhinovirus and vesicular stomatitis by reducing their multiplication. It can heal inflammation, infections, ulcers and even ear infections! Calendula is also recognized as a cleansing herb that helps treat chronic infections and reduces inflammation, as well as helping heal ulcers and eradicate ear infections. (One of the main ingredients of our Collagen formulas!)
3. GINGER - 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.
4. PAU D’ARCO bark - A beautiful rainforest treasure well researched for its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used it for all sorts of ailments stemming from infections, colds, coughs and flus. It became quite famous in the 80's for the research done on its anti cancerous chemistry, along with its revered ability to eliminate candida and other fungal based infections. Pau D'arco is also a nutrient dense tree, and within indigenous people in the rainforest its often given to women to cleanse their blood for a pain-free menstruation, along with helping to keep the blood nourished.
5. GARLIC - From ancient India to the medieval streets of Europe, 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.
6. 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. (You can find our Astragalus within our Qi formula.)
15. 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.
This month and next we will be brining in more rainforest treasures like infamous Jergon Sacha, used by indigenous peoples to neutralize some of the most poisonous snake venom (hint, hint: antiviral to the highest level), along with other very valuable antivirals, like a powerful Elderberry Syrup loaded with fellow rainforest powerhouses that we bring in from Peru and Brazil, such as Cats Claw, Dragons Blood and more.
Certified Organic and Raw Upstate NY Honey, loaded with two essential adaptogens, Shizandra and Siberian Ginseng, along with cinnamon, cardamom and rose for digestive ease. This is a medicinally rich elixir that children can also enjoy. It that can help ease coughs, relief colds and flus, and help build immunity.
FIRE CIDER RECIPE
pictures + recipe by the lovely Brittany
from Eating Bird Food
A delicious immune-boosting health tonic using classic pantry staples such as fresh horseradish, ginger, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper, raw apple cider vinegar and honey. If you're missing some of these ingredients, not to worry it's absolutely adaptable and easy to switch out some of the seasonings and herbs. I love adding in other medicinal herbs into it like Pau D'arco or Dragons Blood for an additional immune boosting punch.
- 1/2 cup freshly peeled and grated ginger root
- 1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish root
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
- 2 organic jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
- 1 Tablespoon turmeric powder or 2 Tablespoons freshly grated turmeric root
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
- organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup raw honey, or to taste
- Add ginger, horseradish, onion, garlic, jalapeño peppers, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, turmeric and cayenne powder into quart-sized glass jar.
- Pour apple cider vinegar in the jar until all the ingredients are fully covered and the vinegar reaches the top of the jar. You want to be sure all the ingredients are covered to prevent spoilage.
- Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or use a plastic lid if you have one.
- Shake jar to combine all the ingredients and store in a dark, cool place for 4-6 weeks, remembering to shake the jar a few seconds every day.
- After one month, use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain out the solids, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. This stuff is liquid gold! The solids can be used in a stir-fry or you can compost/discard them.
- Add honey to the liquid and stir until incorporated.
- Taste your fire cider and add more honey if needed until you reach your desired sweetness.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or in a cold, dark place.
- Drink 1-2 Tablespoons when needed.