Rhinovirus, Coronavirus, Influenza, and stomach viruses...yep these microbes are all around us. Even the mono viruses and Herpes Simplex Viruses fall into this subclass of micro-organisms. Herbs have been used medicinally for thousands of years and the beautiful thing about them is that they can offer multiple actions: being not only antiviral but perhaps even protective to our lungs and modulating our immune system. I have summarized a few of my favorites as they pertain specifically to viruses but also to the lungs.
Glycyrrhiza glabra L., Licorice Root DGL
*This is a known herb to be effective against coronaviurses. In regards to the 2019 nCOV, it hasn't been "officially" proved to be effective because this virus is so new and its to soon to say either way but this infection is a "type" of coronavirus so this is certainly an herb to strongly consider.
Licorice root is commonly found in herbal formulas because it has so many benefits that pertain to not only the immune system but also to inflammation in general. One thing I would like to emphasize here is that this form is "DGL" or deglycyrrhizinated. This means that they are removing the stimulating part of this plant which can raise blood pressure. Obviously this is good to have for those with low blood pressure or those struggling with fatigue BUT not so great for high blood pressure. So when using this herb for a viral infection, please use the DGL form.
Antiviral, anti-microbial, immune stimulating, and anti-inflammatory
Demulcent - soothes irritated and raw lung tissue
Tincture: 2-4 mL dosed 3x/day in acute cases
Powdered or capsule form: 380 mg - 500mg before meals 3x/day in acute dosing and 1x/day for preventative.
Thymus vulgaris, Thyme
Fresh leaf or steamed distilled volatile oil, aka essential oil, is the preferred form over using dried herb but dried herb is still useful. Thyme is technically an "anti-microbial" which means it addresses not only viruses but also bacteria AND fungal infections. What I love about this herb it it's affinity to the lungs.
Great for ANY respiratory infection: upper or lower.
How to use:
Essential Oil: You can also do a steam inhalation or make a chest rub using a coconut oil base or lotion of choice. *Don't give to children orally.
Drinking as a warm tea:
You can steep the leaves for 15 minutes covered and drink a cup every 2-3 hours. You can add a little honey and lemon to this.
Tinctures and Capsules:
When you are using these, again, dose per instructions on the bottle but make sure you do it 3 x/day for acute cases.
Sambucus nigra, Elderflower or Elderberry
This is a commonly known herb for taking as a preventative therapy during the flu and cold season. It has moderate to strong anti-viral properties and is pretty darn safe to use for kids and adults. The flower portion of the plant is used as a diaphoretic which means that it helps to support a fever. The fruit is where you really see those anti-oxidant and anti-viral actions.
The berry is strongly indicated for viral respiratory infections.
How to use:
You will usually find this in a syrup form.
Adults: 10-15 mL (1 Tbsp) (5 mL = 1 tsp, 3 tsp = 1 tbsp) every 2-3 hours or chronically you can use 3x/day.
Children: usually about 1/2 to 1 tsp every 2-3 hours and 3x/day. The bottles usually will instruct you on dosing.
Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is another antimicrobial, meaning its not just for viruses, but it does have a strong affinity to the pulmonary issues. It's great as an essential oil but the fresh or dried leaves are useful, too.
Respiratory infections and Pneumonia
There was a study done that showed 200 mg of eucalyptols used 3x/day significantly reduced the need for steriods in those with steriodal dependent asthma. That's pretty amazing. So, beyond virus, Eucalyptus can be used to modulate bronchial spasms.
How to use:
Tincture: 1-3 mL every 2-3 hours if you have an acute infection or 3x/day chronically
Children: 1 mL every t hours in acute infections
Essential Oils : Apply topically as a chest rub every few hours with a carrier oil. *Do not give internally to children.
CAUTION: If you have an allergy to tree pollens, you may want to be weary of this herb.
Fun fact about Eucalyptus: Did you know it can grow to be one of the tallest trees in the world?
This list is not all inclusive but are some of my "go-to" herbs when dealing with a viral respiratory infection specifically. There are herbs that address spastic coughs, dry coughs, and even wet coughs that have not been mentioned in this post. This blog is intended to get you thinking about natural alternatives that are known to addresses viruses AND that have an affinity to the lungs. They are great foundational herbs to choose for any respiratory infection formula.
Supplements and Tea to Consider:
Traditional Medicinal Tea's, Breath Easy, is a great tea to choose over the counter.
Vital Nutrients ViraCon
Wish Garden's Kick It Cough Tincture or Glycerite
Other kitchen remedies:
Garlic, ginger, and clove are all great immune boosting and anti-viral spices we commonly cook with. Spice up your food with fresh ginger and cook with garlic daily. Stir frys and soups are perfect for ginger.
The plant kingdom offers an array of choices for our medicine cabinet. Hopefully, you'll be better equipped for the 2019 nCOV or whatever virus comes your way.
Eric Yarnell, ND. Botanical Medicine Monographs, Bastyr University, Department of Botanical Medicine.
Botanical Medicine. Michael T. Murray, ND. Joseph E. Pizoorno Jr, ND. Chapter 90. Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice), page 767 - 772.
Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Reference, Evidence Based Clinical Reviews, page 995. Catherine E. Ulbricht, PharmD. Ethan M. Basch, MD, MPhil. Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Cambridge, Massachusetts. www.naturalstandard.com. Department of Pharmacy. Copyright 2005. ISBN 0-323-02994-9.