What is Anti-Viral?
Coronavirus, enterovirus, hepatitis, influenza and herpes are all types of viral infections which cause disease in humans. In the last few years the world was held witness to how viral outbreaks can cause devastating impact. The importance of anti-viral medicine is a key area of research, with natural products being an acceptable alternative for prevention and assisting in reducing symptoms of illness.
Anti-viral is an action of herbal and nutritional medicine (as well as pharmaceutical) which helps to destroy on inhibit growth of a virus. Some natural remedies are directly anti-viral, and others help to support the natural immune processes by tonifying the system. Herbal medicine helps to build the bodies own resistance to get rid of illness.
Natural Anti-Viral Evidence
There is an abundance of evidence to support the use of food based nutritional and herbal medicine in the treatment of disease. Herbal medicine has been used for centuries to fight of bugs & flu’s and strengthen the immune system. Modern medicine, particularly due to urgent need to discover new anti-viral medicine, has been actively researching natural products and herbal medicines to identify their anti-viral mechanisms.
Much of the modern scientific research on anti-viral herbs and nutrients is done in vitro meaning ‘in a test tube’, basically. This evidence is often successful and provides great insight into the compound’s mode of action. For example, where they interact with the virus and how they inhibit it’s infective processes. Human trials, on the other hand, are in comparison limited. Nonetheless, the research is promising as an alternative to improve virus outcomes.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is one of the most commonly known herbal anti-viral out there. This herbal medicine also enhances the immune system and has antioxidant qualities. Elderberry is indicated for flus, common colds, and other acute viral infections. Studies have found that Elderberry reduces upper respiratory tract symptoms caused by viral infections and can help stimulate the immune response and kill influenza.
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia/purpurea) is a commonly used herbal medicine for many immune complaints. It’s actions include immune enhancing, immune modulating, lymphatic and anti-inflammatory, just to name a few. It is indicated for all acute infections, including viral, bacterial and parasitic, as well as chronic infections, upper and lower respiratory conditions and many other systemic infections. Echinacea has been found to interfere with viral entry into cells and may reduce the activity of viruses.
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is yet another anti-viral herbal medicine. It’s most commonly known for its antidepressant, nervine tonic actions, but can be used for infections such as herpes, hepatitis, shingles, and enveloped viral infections. Studies have found that chemicals found within St John’s such as hypericin, help to fight off viruses that imitate healthy human cells, and alter the proteins in the virus, which prevent them from fusing with human cells.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is most well known for it’s anti-inflammatory actions, which makes it a useful ally in bone disorders and liver sluggishness. Although, some research has found that curcumin, the main chemical in turmeric, can alter viruses ability to infect cells by stopping it from binding at the cell membrane. It has shown anti-viral activity against many types of viruses. As well as providing systemic anti-inflammatory effect which may be useful in acute conditions.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) which is found commonly in the kitchen cupboard, has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant and of course, anti-viral properties. Studies have found that oregano oil is effective against various viruses, including respiratory infections. Essential oils found in the plant, carvacrol and thymol, break down and reduce activities of viruses, reducing their ability to infect human cells. Furthermore, oregano oil may help to reduce inflammation which can be useful in acute conditions such as infections and allergies.
These are just a few of the many natural alternatives to help ward off, protect and defend against viruses. Although herbal and nutritional supplements are generally safe, they can interact with medications and may not be right for you, particularly if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
If you are interested in taking natural anti-viral supplements, book in for a 15 minute with one of our naturopaths to see how they can help.