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Going the natural way to manage a variety of health-related problems is growing in popularity as modern day medicine starts to catch up with herbal folk remedies. There are plenty of studies that focus on the benefits of natural methods of treatment, compared to the notorious side effects of taking prescription drugs. However, there is an underlying truth that science has taken long to realize – that viruses are inherently part of the Earth – they have been around for billions of years, maybe even predating the arrival of humans. They have mutated over time, changing forms, yet modern medicine has come up against a stumbling block, with viruses rapidly developing immunity to new drugs and medical treatment. It’s clear that a completely new strategy is required…. or could it be an old strategy revisited? Plants could be the answer medicine has been waiting for. This is the focus of Stephen Buhner’s recent book – Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. 1]
There is one word that strikes fear into the heart of many a medical professional, and that word is “drug resistant”. Infections that are resistant to multiple drugs are very hard to treat and often end in mortality. The CDC defines antiviral resistance as the way a virus has changed so that “antiviral drugs are less effective or not effective at all”. You would think that by this time modern medicine would have been able to make a drug against the common cold, but that is far, far off.
Similarly, the influenza virus constantly mutates – and as a result there is a yearly change to flu vaccines brought out into the market. Lin, Hsu, and Lin called viral infections a “critical issue” in public health, linking viral infections to chronic conditions like diabetes, liver cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. 
However, there are plenty of antiviral herbs that work well in fighting viral infections – and resistance is not developed by virii – presumably due to the plants’ broad array of active molecular components, as opposed to single-moleculed drugs. It’s been speculated that a single mutation could render a microorganism immune to a molecule – but that it is less likely for such an organism to be able to develop immunity to multiple active components at once.
Here are 5 of the best herbs considered antiviral – and some reference studies that have supported these benefits:
This plant is not only popular because of its fragrant addition to a variety of dishes; it also has potent antiviral properties from a compound called carvacrol. According to Pilau, et. al. in 2011, carvacrol, a major compound found in Oregano essential oil, was able to inhibit viral activity of drug-resistant viruses, from herpes simplex to respiratory syncytial virus in humans. 
Garlic is known for its strong antibacterial properties but how does it fare against viruses? Very well, as it happens. There are older studies published in the 1980s and 1990s that show garlic’s potential influenza-fighting properties. Tsai, et. al. in 1985 studied garlic extract and found that it was able to fight against influenza B. Similar results were seen in Weber’s study in 1992, where fresh garlic extract was virucidal against a variety of viruses, including the herpes simplex virus. Recently, Kang, et. al. in 2001 found that garlic was able to boost the body’s immune system which can help fight against viral infections. 
For centuries, Elderberry or elder has been used to manage the flu as well as treat open wounds. A 2012 study by Kinoshita, et. al. found that elderberry juice was able to boost the body’s immune response to the human influenza virus (a.k.a. the flu virus), able to defend the body against viral infection. 
Echinacea is a Native American plant used for hundreds of years on wounds and infections, dubbed a general “cure-all”. A recent publication by Ross concluded that Echinacea extract was able to reduce cold episodes and their length, reducing the need to take additional prescription drugs. He concluded that Echinacea could be an effective agent in managing and preventing the common cold. 
According to the NIH, the flower of the Calendula (aka. Marigold) is typically used to manage muscle spasms, fever, and pain and swelling. There have been only a few studies that focus on the anti-viral activity of Calendula but a prominent one was published by Kalvatchev, Walder, and Garzaro, concluding that organic extract of Calendula officinalis could potentially have anti-HIV properties. The extract was able to significantly reduce HIV-activity and slow its progress. 
More Antiviral Herbs (Full Study):
For a highly detailed, top quality report on antiviral herbs, see Stephen Buhner’s Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections (Amazon link).
 Buhner, S. (2013). Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. https://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Antivirals-Remedies-Resistant-Infections/dp/1612121608
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza Antiviral Drug Resistance. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/antiviralresistance.htm
 Lin, L., Hsu, W. & Lin, C. (2014). Antiviral Natural Products and Herbal Medicines. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032839/
 University of Maryland Medical Center. Elderberry. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry
 Kinoshita, E., et. al. (2012). Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972323
 University of Maryland Medical Center. Echinacea. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/echinacea
 Ross, S. (2016). Echinacea purpurea: A Proprietary Extract of Echinacea purpurea Is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26633727
 US National Library of Medicine. Calendula. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/235.html
 Kalvatchev, Z., Walder, R. & Garzaro, D. (1997). Anti-HIV activity of extracts from Calendula officinalis flowers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9207986
 Tsai, Y., et. al. (1985). Antiviral Properties of Garlic: In vitro Effects of Influenza B, Herpes Simplex, and Coxsackie Viruses. https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2007-969553
 Weber, N., et. al. (1992). In vitro virucidal effects of Allium sativum (garlic) extract and compounds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1470664
 Kang, N., et. al. (2001). Immunomodulating effect of garlic component, allicin, on murine peritoneal macrophages. http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317(01)00269-X/abstract?cc=y=
 Pilau, M., et. al. (2011). Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24031796
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