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There are certain substances that are known as antiviral herbs. This is due to their ability to treat and prevent viral respiratory infections (VRI). These herbs have immune-stimulating and inflammation-modulating effects, which means that they can help prevent immune overreaction (“cytokine storm”) to VRI. Furthermore they are also helping the immune system cope better with infections. Today we are going to present to you 6 antiviral herbs!

The antiviral herbs that offer a remedy straight from nature

The herbs down below have all been used since ancient times and used as natural remedy to various diseases, including viral infections! This is because all of them contain a wide range of active phytochemicals, including flavonoids, terpenoids, limonoids, lignans,and more. All of these substances have shown to have therapeutic applications against various functionally and genetically diverse viruses.


Ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and has been widely consumed as a spice and herbal medicine for centuries! The reason why this herb made it to our list for best antiviral herbs is because it contains gingerols and shogaols. These compounds are phenolic and are mainly responsible for the health benefits of dinger. According to research, ginger has numerous biological activities, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, antidiabetic, antiobesity and antinausea properties.

According to the same study, fresh ginger inhibits plaque formation induced by the human respiratory syncytial virus (HSRV) in respiratory tract cell lineages. Furthermore, it is successful in blocking internalization and viral attachment. This analysis clearly showed that fresh ginger had antiviral activity. However, dried ginger has not shown antiviral capabilities in most of the studies. Hence, if you want to get the best antiviral properties from this herb, you better consume it fresh!

Allium sativum – Also know as Garlic is one of the best antiviral herbs

Allium sativum or Garlic, is one of the most commonly used herbal remedies in human history, dating back to ancient times! The main bioactive compound of the antiviral herb is allicin. According to research, garlic extract with the allicin has shown to inhibit antiviral activities in vitro and in vivo due to sulfur-containing compounds. This is due to the fact that they react with thiol groups of various enzymes which are critical for microorganism surveillance.

In recent times, there have been so many preclinical investigations aimed to study antiviral activities of the different aqueous extracts of the A. sativum. According to one of the toxicity assays (carried out using chicken embryos), an aqueous extract of the A. sativum has shown to have antiviral properties against coronavirus species.


Echinacea is the collective name of a group of flowering plants, native to North America.There are nine types of Echinacea, however only three of them have been ingredients in herbal traditional remedies since ages ago:

  • E. angustifolia – it has narrow petals
  • E. pallida – it has pale petals
  • E. purpurea – it has purple petals

It’s important to note that there is a possibility that different species offer different health benefits for people. According to recent studies, various species of echinacea have the ability to act as inflammation modulators in cells infected with influenza, rhinovirus, and other respiratory viruses. Due to this effect,  cytokine storms might be prevented and a reduction of symptoms could appear.


Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb, which is native to the Mediterranean. People have been using it since ancient times in cooking, making perfumes, and because of its potential benefits for health of course. Rosemary is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and is actually a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamin B-6.

But let’s focus on  this herb’s medicinal properties. Generally people have been using Rosemary to help soothe muscle pain, improve memory, and boost the immune and circulatory systems. The herb contains many substances, one of which is the Oleanolic acid. According to researchers, this is precisely what displays antiviral activity against herpes viruses, HIV, influenza, and hepatitis in animal and test-tube studies.

Glycyrrhiza glabra

Glycyrrhiza glabra (also called licorice) is also a part of the well-known antiviral herbs group, since ages ago. In past times, licorice was considered a first-class drug in Chinese pharmacy and has been used in ancient Rome, Egypt, and Greece. Glycyrrhiza glabra contains different secondary substances that can be extracted from its roots and stem when ingested. Glycyrrhizin is a major chemical compound that is present in G. glabra and is responsible for the sweet taste of its roots.

According to one significant antiviral study, hot water extract preparations of the licorice have shown to have antiviral effect against the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). Other than HRSV, secondary substances of the G. glabra have shown effective antiviral actions against influenza virus A2 (H2N2).  Glycyrrhizin, which is a chemical compound extracted from licorice, has shown to inhibit more significant antiviral activities on some DNA and RNA-based viruses.

Phyllanthus niruri

Phyllanthus niruri is a perennial tropical traditional shrub of the Phyllanthaceae family which people have been using for a long time in Chinese and Malay medicine. According to some studies, from cell and animal models there is undeniable valuable scientific evidence for this herb’s use for a wide range of diseases.

Among the best potential therapeutic effects of P. niruri is its’ antiviral activity. Scientists, which conducted studies by obtaining chronic hepatitis B patients and woodchuck hepatitis- (WHV-) infected woodchucks, treated these people with extracts of this plant. The result was decreased viral antigen levels. According to some further studies, extracts of P. niruri have been shown to possess significant antiviral potential and found to be a promising remedy for hepatitis B carriers.

Furthermore, the antiviral effect of P. niruri is not just limited to the hepatitis B virus. Aqueous extracts of P. niruri containing repandusinic acid have been shown to apply a significant inhibitory effect on HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. In addition, various members of the Phyllanthus family have exhibited inhibitor activity against a wide range of viruses, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Bottom line

Research and studies from recent years have proven that there are numerous effective herbal treatments (which are safe to use) to prevent virus transmission and even help the immune system fight viral infection. The mechanisms of action which inhibit antiviral effects include directly inhibiting various causative viruses, affecting the immune and inflammatory response to infection, and counteracting symptoms. Herbs are able to provide us with a much-needed alternative to ineffective antibiotics!

You can read more about herbs, vitamins and minerals that are essential for your body here.

Dr. Disha Trivedi

Author Dr. Disha Trivedi

Dr. Disha Trivedi is PhD in Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology. She is working as a medical writer and researcher at MVS Pharma GmbH.

More posts by Dr. Disha Trivedi

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