Author: Rositsa Tashkova, Master of Molecular Biology and Microbiology

herbs against viruses

Although the attention of the whole world in the last year is focused almost entirely on the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the causative agents of other dangerous viral diseases have not disappeared.

History remembers the worst pandemic in the recent past - that of the Spanish flu in 1918, during which more than 500 million people worldwide became ill and 50 million died - mostly children and young people between 20 and 40 years. More American soldiers died from the Spanish flu than in World War I at the time. [ref.10] For comparison, currently the number of people infected with the new coronavirus in the world is 96.2 million, and the number of dead - 2.06 million.

The smallpox virus is one of the most common causes of death in young children. The disease is extremely contagious (9 out of 10 people who are not protected are infected), it is transmitted by airborne droplets and is dangerous for people of all ages. Although there is an effective vaccine against the disease, many people remain unvaccinated, allowing it to spread. In 2019, a peak in the spread of the disease was observed, as 869,770 people became ill and 207,500 of them died. [ref.11]

Unfortunately, no effective drugs have yet been found for most viruses. Treatment is usually supportive and relies on the body's own immune system for the outcome of the disease. Because viruses are very different from bacteria [ref.1], antibiotics cannot cure a viral infection.

Currently, the danger of two simultaneous epidemics - influenza and coronavirus, poses a new challenge. In addition to the proper wearing of a mask, the use of disinfectants and soap, physical distance, we can support our body with healthy food, good sleep and aromatic herbs with antiviral properties while we expect better times :)

antiviral herbs

This is not another article that promises a panacea. Here we will summarize which are the medicinal plants with the strongest antiviral properties, which we can easily find in the countryside, and which are the viruses against which they have shown effectiveness.

 

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic has proven strong antiviral properties [ref.6]. According to some studies, its effect is directed against influenza type A and B, rhinoviruses (causing a cold), herpes viruses and others.

garlic against viruses

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea has a double antiviral effect, simultaneously stimulating immune protection and directly affecting viruses.

Its effects against herpes simplex, influenza viruses, coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and one of the causative agents of the cold - coronavirus 229E [ref.7] have been identified.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Elderberry also has an immunostimulating and antiviral effect, including against influenza viruses. It is used in the form of syrup, dried fruit or additives.

It can alleviate the course of viral respiratory infections, according to a 2018 study. [ref.8]

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

According to some studies, essential oil from the herb is effective against herpes viruses (HSV1) and some paragripviruses and has a positive effect on the body's resistance. [ref.3]

fennel wild fennel fennel fennel

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is a rich in essential oils herb with antiviral effect against bird flu (H9N2) [ref.4]enterovirus 71 and herpes viruses.

It is very common in our country and is characterized by its lemon aroma when the fresh petals are rub.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil is also known in Europe as a royal herb and is widely used in both spice and tea.

According to a 2005 study. [ref.2] aqueous and spirit extract of basil has activity against a variety of viruses, thanks to the substances ursolic acid, linalol, and apigenin:

  • Herpes simplex (HSV1 and HSV2);
  • Adenovirus serotype 3 and 8 (ADV-3, ADV-8);
  • Coxakivirus B1 (CVB1);
  • Enterovirus 71 (EV71);
  • Hepatitis B (HBV).

There is evidence that basil also affects the immune systemincreasing the levels of certain immune cells.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary owes its antiviral properties to oleanolic and carnotic acid, which it contains.

rosemary against viruses

Other herbs with antiviral effect are:

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale);
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra);
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis);
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare);
  • Astragalus;
  • Mint (Mentha piperita);
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale);
  • Ginseng (Panax);
  • African pelargonium, African geranium (Pelargonium sidoides). [ref.9]

 

The only way to deal with these epidemics is our common efforts and a sense of responsibility to ourselves, but also to everyone else - friends, loved ones, strangers, the elderly, sick people, and young children.

 

References:

  1. What is the difference between a bacterium and a virus and what exactly is thecell ,2020, Sanatio
  2. Antiviral activities of extracts and selected pure constituents of Ocimum basilicum, 2006, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
  3. Screening for antiviral activities of isolated compounds from essential oils, 2011, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  4. Antiviral activity of the oseltamivir and Melissa officinalis L. essential oil against avian influenza A virus (H9N2), 2016, VirusDisease
  5. Antiviral activity of carnosic acid against respiratory syncytial virus, 2014, Virology Journal
  6. Anti-viral potential of garlic ( Allium sativum) and it's organosulfur compounds: A systematic update of pre-clinical and clinical data, 2020, Trends in Food Science and Technology
  7. In vitro virucidal activity of Echinaforce®, an Echinacea purpurea preparation, against coronaviruses, including common cold coronavirus 229E and SARS-CoV-2, 2020, Virology Journal
  8. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials, 2018, Complement Ther Med
  9. Antiviral Natural Products and Herbal Medicines, 2014, J Tradit Complement Med
  10. 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus), CDC

 

The author:

👩 🔬 Rositsa Tashkova-Kacharova has a Bachelor degree in Molecular Biology and a Master's degree in Microbiology and Microbiological Control. She completed her Master's thesis at the University of Nantes, France. At that time she painted a Christmas tree of bacteria and inspired the announcement of the first competition for drawing with microorganisms Agar Art. For 3 years she was the editor of the journal Bulgarian Science and continues to write about science and medicine.