Back to school can mean back to the Doctor. We have all experienced that cold that just won’t go away. Try adding these herbs to your diet to prevent cold and flu viruses from taking hold.
Viruses are very different from bacteria, which are living organisms. Viruses live inside us, but they are much smaller than bacteria. Viruses need a host to survive. Unfortunately there is no antibiotic that will kill a virus; they only work on bacterial infections. The good news is that our own immune system can protect us from many viruses. With help from antiviral herbs our immune system may be even more effective.
Here’s a list of herbs that have antiviral properties that can boost your body’s own immune system. Want even more? Here’s our comprehensive list of herbs from A to Z.
Throughout history garlic has been used as a treatment for many diseases. Studies show that garlic extract can be effective against the cold and flu. If you don’t take it before you get the flu it has also been shown to reduce the length and severity of a colds and flu. Garlic oil is used to treat ear infections and to treat cardiovascular disease.
Garlic extract is raw garlic that is sliced and aged in ethanol for 1.5 years. To improve your odds of not getting sick, try taking 2.5 grams of garlic extract daily. Read more about the studies behind garlic.
If you want to read more about the use of Aged Garlic Extract see this study in the Journal of Nutrition. This published study outlines many different medicinal uses for garlic — from cardiovascular to antiviral.
Ginger has been used in eastern medicine for hundreds of years. Fresh ginger contains both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Ginger is believed to help prevent viral infections by increasing the body’s temperature. It also works for you by flushing out toxins from your body. You can use ginger in three ways: 1.) chew on a small piece of fresh ginger every day; 2.) Mix ginger juice with honey and swallow it; or 3.) drink ginger tea.
Read more about studies that tested the antiviral properties of ginger. Dr. Oz also writes about the health benefits of ginger in this article.
Oregano by itself is not antiviral, but medicinal grade oregano is distilled into an oil that is much more potent. Oregano contains carvacrol and thymol, which are compounds that have both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Oregano oil can used in cooking. It can be added to soups and sauces. Read this useful post for more suggestions about how to use oregano in your regular diet.
Licorice root is commonly taken for sore throat, cough and any type of respiratory infection. This plant is native in Europe and Asia. It’s also used for stomach issues. It is normally taken in the form of licorice extract but it can also be found in a powder. It is used as a soothing agent and as an expectorant, which means that it gets rid of phlegm.
The active ingredient in licorice root is glycyrrhiza, which can have side effects. A specific kind of licorice root that doesn’t have this ingredient is call DGL. It is also used to treat ulcers, canker sores and acid reflux. You can read more about the benefits of licorice root in this University of Maryland Medical Center article.
The use of elderberry goes back as far as cavemen. Studies show that it is used to naturally improve the symptoms of colds and flu. It can also reduce the duration of the flu and clear up sinus infections. Elderberry is even better than blueberries if you measure the level of flavonoids. Elderberry can also lower blood sugar.
Read more about the benefits of elderberry.
Echinacea is a Native American flower. It has become a more widely accepted tool for preventing cold and flu. It is also used to relieve pain and naturally relieve constipation. Echinacea is a natural anti-inflammatory. Echinacea can be taken in many different forms, but most commonly an extract.
Calendula is more commonly know as a pot marigold, which is not the same as the annual marigold. It has a high concentration of flavonoids, an antioxidant. The ointment made from the flower is often used to treat cuts, bruises and burns and to reduce the infections that can result. It is also commonly used to treat ear infections and dermatitis. To read more about the benefits of Calendula see this article.
Astragalus is a perennial plant native to Asia. It is widely used to treat chronic hepatitis. A recent study shows that taken regularly, astragalus root, can help prevent colds and seasonal allergies. Read more about astragalus.
Cat’s claw is a woody vine found in the Amazon and was used by the Incas. Cat’s claw has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that it can help with arthritis pain. It is also shown to reduce blood pressure. Cat’s claw is used in treating the herpes virus.
Use of olive leaf dates back to Egyptian times. Crushed olive leaves are used to lower fevers. It has been shown to lower blood pressure. It treats arthritis swelling and pain. Olive leaf is used to treat ear infections. Read about studies showing the benefits of olive leaf.
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