By overwhelming requests, I present seven classic and common herbs traditionally used to fortify and assist our immune system to deal with viral and microbic infections.
Please Note: There is no evidence currently these herbs are effective against CoVid-19.
Chinese studies have shown that using astragalus during cold season reduces the number of colds caught and shortens the duration of those that are caught. If you tend to get colds and flu often, astragalus can help you build up a natural resistance. It increases the body’s production of interferon, which contributes to protecting against viruses invading the cells.
Astragalus also helps the macrophages, immune cells that kill off viruses, to become faster and more efficient.
Astragalus is classified as a warm and moistening herb and dosages range from 6,000 – 15,000 mg daily for the dried root.
Andrographis prevents infections with rhinoviruses, the type of viruses most often responsible for the common cold. Andrographis also relieves runny nose, headache, sore muscles, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, although a dose of 1,200 milligrams or more a day may be needed for this effect. Andrographis has also been used to reduce fever and pain, and for disorders of the intestinal tract.
Andrographis is considered a cold and drying herb. Dosages range from 500 – 6,000 mg daily.
The leaf increases the number and activity of phagocytes and interferes with viral infection by inactivating the virus, preventing the virus from shedding its coat, budding, or assembling at the cell membrane. It can also directly penetrate an infected host and inhibit viral replication.
Olive Leaf is classified as a Cold and drying herb with dosages ranging from 1,500 – 3,000 mg daily.
Thuja has an established antiviral activity. It is most often used to treat warts and polyps, being prescribed both internally and externally for these conditions. Thuja makes an effective expectorant and decongestant remedy, and may be used to treat acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
Thuja is classified as a warm and drying herb, with dosages ranging from 3,000 – 6,000 mg daily.
Echinacea is an excellent anti-infection agent and most effective when taken at the onset of symptoms. The herb stimulates the formation of leukocytes and enhances phagocytosis. It inhibits the enzyme hyaluronidase, which aids the infection process by thinning cellular matrix, thereby making cells more permeable to infection.
Echinacea also stimulates wound healing and has cortisone-like activity. One of its constituents, echinacin, exhibits interferon-like activity. Another component, properdin, helps neutralise bacterial and viral blood toxins and increases the total number of immune cells developing in the bone marrow.
Baical skullcap is a broad-spectrum antiviral. It inhibits viral replication, suppresses viral gene expression, reduces viral RNA in infected cells, inhibits viral fusion with cells, protects cell membranes from virus-initiated cytokines, reduces the expression of the viral matrix protein gene, interferes with viral entry by interacting with viral envelope proteins and cellular CD4 and chemokine receptors, regulates the innate antiviral immunity of the host by modulating cytokine production at the time of viral insult, lowers host cell membrane fluidity thus inhibiting the formation of virus-induced membrane pores in host cells (which in itself stops viral entry into host cells), inhibits viral release from infected cells, inhibits viral cytokine cascades, increases apoptosis in infected cells, stimulates innate resistance to viral infection, promotes the development of monoclonal antibodies to encephalitis virus E protein, and is directly virucidal.
Baical Skullcap is classified as a Cold and Drying herb with dosages ranging from 3,000 – 9,000 mg daily.
As a major broad-spectrum antiviral, licorice prevents viral replication across a wide range of viruses and inhibits viral growth, viral uptake, neuraminidase in numerous influenza strains, virion-associated RNA- dependent DNA polymerase, casein-kinase-II-mediated activation of HIV-1 enzymes (including HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase), viral antigen expression of human cytomegalovirus, and protein-kinase-A- and casein-kinase-II-mediated phosphorylation of the ICP27 regulatory protein of HSV-1. It inactivates virus particles, strongly inhibits viral cytokine cascades, stops the ballooning degeneration of fused cells, modifies the intracellular transport and suppresses sialylation of hepatitis B virus surface antigen, inhibits RANTES secretion, lowers lipid bilayer membrane fluidity, thus stopping the virus-induced development of membrane pores through which the viruses can enter host cells. It is somewhat virucidal.
Licorice is classified as a moist and neutral herb with dosages ranging from 3,000 – 15,000 mg daily.
British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific Committee. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Consolidated ed. West Yorkshire: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983.
Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press, 2003