10 Best Natural Antivirals to Kick Viruses to the Curb

Photo credit: Jonathan Billinger / Ripe Elderberries

Whether we like it or not, viruses are part of life. Every  year, the dreaded flu season creeps around the corner, and people scramble to treat every cough and sniffle before it becomes a full-blown case of the flu. Sometimes they’ll go to the doctor to get prescriptions for antivirals, which can be pricey and carries a risk of severe side effects.

Many people don’t realize that there are a plethora of natural antivirals out there that can safely treat influenza as well as other viruses, and help you feel like your old self again!

Evidence-Based Natural Antivirals and How to Use Them

These natural antivirals have been proven to work effectively against most viruses, including influenza A, B, or C, by stopping the RNA from replicating or giving the immune system a boost so it can destroy the virus.

1. Elderberry

The elderberry is a famous ancient fruit known for its potent antioxidant properties. It was used for many years as a folk medicine for various ailments.

A recent study by a group of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering researchers from the University of Sydney found that the compounds from the elderberries have been proven to stop viruses from entering and replicating in human cells, and can also help strengthen the immune response to the infection.

Researchers found that it was even better at stopping viral propagation in the late stages of the flu cycle after the cells had already been infected with the virus.

The most common elderberry remedy is the syrup. While it may taste like sour tart cherry, it’s quite powerful. The fruit compounds are concentrated into an extract by the syrup making process. You can also make your own syrup if you find some fresh elderberries. Here’s an easy recipe.

If the taste or texture of elderberry syrup doesn’t appeal to you, then you may find that elderberry gummies are a better option. Here’s another delicious recipe. Your family’s taste buds will probably thank you.

2. Ginger

Ginger is a cooking spice that is a powerful remedy that knocks viruses out cold. It’s been a part of Asian, Indian, and Arabic medicine for hundreds of years to help cure several health ailments.

Ginger is very beneficial for fighting flu-like symptoms, especially nausea and vomiting, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Their report shows that the active components of ginger root are pungent phenol compounds and oils like gingerols and shogaols.

The usual dose is 1g-4g per day. You could soak shredded ginger roots in warm water, make tea, or create a yummy ginger shot. Some people add ginger flakes to their meals as well. Since it’s a spicy ingredient, it’s not recommended for children under the age of 2.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a form of Curcumin, another ancient spice from Asia, with antimicrobial agents that fights effectively against different bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses like influenza or even coronavirus. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, and antihistaminic effects may help relieve respiratory complications caused by a coronavirus.

Curcumin is so potent that it has been proven to decrease staph (even MRSA), listeria, E. coli, and H. pylori contamination. Researchers recently found that Curcumin also inhibited the Rift Valley fever replication in cells. In all, Curcumin is pretty amazing.

This ancient remedy is also beneficial for treating inflammation, which will come in handy for an inflamed throat and lungs from all the coughing during flu season.

Some people like to combine turmeric with ginger and honey for a flu bashing latte, tea, or “golden milk.

4. Garlic

Alliin is a crucial component of raw garlic. When it is crushed or chewed, it becomes allicin, which has been proven in labs to be an effective antiviral that kills bacteria and viruses.

Other studies show garlic can reduce the risk of becoming sick in the first place and cuts the duration of the flu or cold. For example, researchers gave a group of volunteers’ garlic supplements and another group placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% decreased risk of getting sick, and their illness was also 70% shorter compared to the placebo group.

Tip: If garlic is cooked, then the allicin may be depleted, so it’s best to consume garlic raw when dealing with the flu. If you’re interested in other garlic remedies, check this out.

5. Vitamin C

Did you know that having the flu can deplete your vitamin C levels? The International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine found that increasing Vitamin C intake to fix the loss can be a powerful tool for treating the flu and the common cold.

After all, it’s an essential nutrient that helps stimulate the cellular functions of the immune system. Numerous studies show it can shorten the lifespan of a severe virus.

You can get vitamin C from fresh food such as oranges, or supplements. Keep in mind that overdoing it on vitamin C supplements with ascorbic acid may cause an upset stomach. The liposomal form of vitamin C is easier on the body to absorb, and rarely causes stomach issues.

There have been many cases where an Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) therapy cured patients battling a severe viral infection. They were given a pH-neutral form of sodium ascorbate three times a day for several days, many noticed an improvement after the first day.

While you’re at it, add some Vitamin D to your diet. People generally become ill in the winter because their vitamin D levels are low from the lack of sun exposure. Better yet, go outside and enjoy some sun if it’s shining in your area!

6. Echinacea

Echinacea is a flowering plant that has been used in medicine for many centuries. It’s commonly found in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Dr. Jen Tan, an immune system expert, explains that there is evidence of Echinacea purpurea reducing cold and flu symptoms. On top of this, other researchers claim that when echinacea is taken at the first sign of any cold or flu, it can speed up the healing process.

He also mentioned that there is research that shows ingesting echinacea boosts the body’s defense system by increasing white blood cells, monocytes, and neutrophils, which fights the infection.

Echinacea is a supplement that you can take in pill form. If you’d rather have tea, you can go down to your local tea shop to buy dried leaves by the pound, or look for pre-made tea bags like this one. Tip: Add raw honey to your tea to make it taste better and help soothe a sore throat.

7. Oregano

Oregano is not only for making delicious spaghetti, but it’s also an herb with strong antiviral properties. Oil of oregano was researched in 2011 and found effective against respiratory viruses.

Another study in 2013 found that oregano oil can reduce painful symptoms from the flu, such as body aches or a sore throat. The antiviral properties come from an active component called carvacrol, which reduces virus infectivity within 15 minutes of exposure and affects the virus RNA.

You can purchase oregano capsule supplements, add it to your food, or use a tincture. Keep in mind that oregano oil is quite powerful, so it’s best to start off small and see how your body reacts.

8. St. John’s Wort

Also known as “Hypericum perforatum,” the St. John’s wort is a flowering plant that grows in the wild. It’s been used for many years to treat depression and other health issues.

St. John’s Wort has been proven to have antiviral effects against influenza, respiratory, and reproductive viruses. It’s also useful when it comes to treating coronaviruses that cause bronchitis. Like the other natural antivirals mentioned in here, the active components in St. John’s Wort affects the virus RNA.

You can take St. John’s Wort as a supplement in pill form or use as a tincture. Since it may interact with some medicines, consult your doctor first.

9. Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is considered a “superfood” compared to regular raw honey, because of where it’s harvested. Bees collect the nectar of the Manuka flowers along the beautiful landscape of New Zealand.

The honey from manuka flowers has been shown to have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, which you can use to soothe and kill bacteria or viruses that cause a sore throat.

You can also apply it to infected wounds. Researchers found that it’s effective against the drug-resistant staph virus, also known as MRSA. If it can kill the MRSA, then the flu doesn’t stand a chance!

Adding it to your herbal antiviral tea will give it a healing boost. If you prefer, you could eat 1 tsp directly three times a day. If you can’t find manuka honey at your local store, don’t worry! Raw honey is the next best thing and can be extremely helpful too.

10. Homeopathic Remedies

If you’re still feeling yucky and you want some over-the-counter homeopathic remedies to go along with the natural antivirals, you’re in luck! There are several that you can buy at your local store (or order online).

Oscillococcinum

If you’ve ever talked to a crunchy momma, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard about an over-the-counter homeopathic medicine with a funny name that claims to reduce the severity and duration of the flu, especially when it’s paired up with elderberry syrup.

They’ll also tell you that it works best if you take it within 24-28 hours. If you’re on day 3 or 4 and you’re just now reading this, don’t fret. You can still give it a try. It can help you recover from symptoms associated with the flu.

The key ingredient in Oscillococcinum is Anas Barbariae, which comes from duck heart and liver. There have been studies on the effectiveness of Oscillococcinum against the flu virus. For instance, an analysis by the SciELO Public Health journal about the Cochrane Review on Oscillococcinum concludes that:

1) Oscillococcinum reduced the time needed for recovery.

2) the number of days required to return to work was significantly reduced: 0.49 days less compared to the control (average of 4.1 days)

3) Oscillococcinum increased the likelihood of recovery within 48 hours of starting treatment.

Colloidal Silver

This remedy has been used for various purposes for many years. People that live far away from civilization without easy access to doctors have been known to brew their own colloidal silver. Thankfully, it can be bought nowadays at a local store or online.

While its benefits are still widely debated, researchers have claimed that it attaches to proteins on the cell walls of bacteria or viruses, which damages their cell membranes. This allows the silver ions to move inside the cells, where they can mess up the metabolic processes and cause damage to its DNA and RNA, resulting in the cell’s death.

 

Additional health & wellness resources:

http://www.columbusrecoverycenter.com/well-being-resources/

 

 

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