Herbs for Infection and Flu You Should Know

10 Herbs for Infection and Flu You Should Know

Infection occurs when a microorganism enters the body and causes harm to human health. The causes of the disease can come from bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other pathogens.

Current conventional treatments are antibiotics and antivirals, but some people are turning to herbal treatments because of their potential antibacterial properties.

Here are the best herbs for infections that will help strengthen the immune system and prevent viruses.

Disclaimer

What are Herbs and How can they help with Infections?

10 Herbs for Infection and Flu

Herbs are natural remedies derived from plants that prevent and treat viral respiratory infections (VRI) like the common cold, flu, and bronchitis.

They offer alternatives to conventional treatments, which often only mask symptoms and may have limited efficacy.

Herbs can potentially directly target viruses, modulate immune responses, and alleviate symptoms, so herbs provide a holistic approach to managing VRI.

Additionally, they offer evidence-based prevention strategies, which is especially important given the limitations of influenza vaccines and the low vaccination uptake in the population. [1]

Herbs can combat infections in various ways: [1]

  1. Direct Antiviral Action: Certain herbs contain compounds that directly inhibit the replication of viruses causing respiratory infections. For instance, herbs like Ligusticum spp., Lomatium dissectum, and Osmorhiza occidentalis are potent antivirals, especially effective against respiratory tract viruses.
  2. Immune Stimulation: Many herbs boost immune-stimulating properties, aiding the body's natural defense against viral infections. Herbs like Sambucus nigra (black elderberry) and Panax ginseng enhance immune function, reducing the likelihood and severity of viral infections.
  3. Inflammation Modulation: Infections often trigger inflammatory responses, leading to symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and cough. Some herbs have anti-inflammatory effects that can alleviate these symptoms and prevent complications from excessive inflammation. For example, herbs like Prunella vulgaris and Glycyrrhiza glabra show inflammation-modulating properties.
  4. Symptom Relief: Certain herbs provide relief from discomfort linked to respiratory infections. For example, Echinacea angustifolia and Lomatium dissectum are traditionally used to ease symptoms like cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

Overall, herbs offer a comprehensive approach to managing viral respiratory infections by targeting the virus, boosting the immune system, controlling inflammation, and relieving symptoms.

Specific Herbs for Infections

Fungal Infections

Goldenseal Root

Goldenseal can help combat fungal infections

Goldenseal can help combat fungal infections through the presence of endophytic fungi.

Specifically, research has identified endophytic fungi from the goldenseal plant and the secondary metabolites they produce that have antibacterial properties.

One of these compounds is Alternariol monomethyl ether, which is detected in both Alternaria spp—fungi and in the seeds of the goldenseal plant.

Although extracts from goldenseal seeds do not exhibit antibacterial activity, these compounds from endophytic fungi may play a role in combating fungal infections. [2]

This video will give you the detailed benefits of Goldenseal root and how to choose to the best form of this herb:

Turmeric

Turmeric, specifically its essential oil (TEO) and aloe vera gel (AVG), contains bioactive compounds that combat fungal infections.

These compounds enhance the effectiveness of antifungal creams (AFCs), such as terbinafine and azole creams, against various pathogenic fungi.

The synergistic action of TEO or AVG with AFCs shows promise as an alternative treatment for fungal infections, offering a potent and side-effect-free solution, particularly for dermatophytosis and other common fungal diseases. [3]

Turmeric contains bioactive compounds that combat fungal infections

Myrrh

The research explored Myrrh essential oil's antifungal properties against three storage fungi: Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, and Penicillium citrinum.

Findings indicated that the oil hindered fungal growth, sporulation, and spore germination in a concentration-dependent manner.

Additionally, the vapor of Myrrh essential oil exhibited inhibitory effects on the fungi.

These results propose that Myrrh essential oil could be a promising natural antifungal agent for managing storage fungi. [4]

The vapor of Myrrh essential oil exhibited inhibitory effects on the fungi

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Elettaria cardamomum, popularly referred to as cardamom, exhibits great potential in the fight against fungal infections.

Strong substances with antibacterial qualities, such as flavonoids and polyphenolic acids, are present in its ethanolic extract (EEC).

Research has indicated that EEC may efficiently suppress fungal growth, exhibiting inhibitory zones that span from 8 to 33 mm in diameter.

EEC's broad-spectrum antifungal activity underscores its potential as a natural therapy for fungal diseases, even though susceptibility varies amongst fungus strains.

EEC may efficiently suppress fungal growth

Bacterial Infections

Oregano

The study explored oregano's antibacterial potential against 111 Gram-positive bacterial isolates from 23 species across 3 genera.

Results: oregano infusion and essential oil were effective against bacteria like Staphylococcus saprophyticus, S. aureus, Micrococcus spp., and Bacillus spp.

Infusion worked best on Bacillus laterosporus, while the oil was most effective on S. saprophyticus.

However, oregano decoction showed no antibacterial activity. This highlights oregano as a natural antibacterial agent against Gram-positive bacteria. [5]

Oregano is a natural antibacterial agent against Gram-positive bacteria

Garlic

Extensively studied for its medicinal properties, garlic stands out for its antimicrobial, cardiovascular, and anti-cancer effects.

Packed with sulfur compounds and active elements like allicin, it boasts therapeutic advantages.

Garlic has been a go-to remedy in diverse cultures through the ages, and modern research is unveiling its vast health potential.

From battling infections to reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, garlic is hailed as a natural powerhouse for enhancing overall health and well-being. [6]

Garlic stands out for its antimicrobial

Thyme

Thyme helps fight infections using biological compounds in thyme oil, especially vital active ingredients such as thymol and carvacrol.

These compounds have been shown to inhibit bacterial growth and have vigorous antibacterial activity, especially against drug-resistant bacteria. [7]

Thyme helps fight infections using biological compounds

Viral Infections

Elderberry

Elderberry helps with viral infections through its rich content of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanins.

These compounds have been shown to possess antiviral properties by interfering with the replication of viruses, thus helping to reduce the severity and duration of viral infections.

Elderberry may be a safe option for treating viral respiratory diseases. However, its effectiveness and safety are still uncertain, and more research is needed to draw solid conclusions. [8]

Elderberry helps with viral infections

Peppermint

The study investigated the antiviral properties of peppermint, focusing on its potential against herpes simplex virus (HSV).

It found that both dichloromethane and methanol extracts of peppermint, as well as pure menthol, effectively inhibited HSV replication in green monkey kidney cells. [9]

Multiple studies have demonstrated the significant antiviral properties of various peppermint extracts.

Peppermint appears to bolster the immune system and provide protection against viruses. [10]

Peppermint appears to bolster the immune system

Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been found to exhibit antiviral properties primarily through its bioactive compounds, such as gingerol, shogaol, and paradol.

These compounds have demonstrated antiviral activity against various viral infections.

Ginger's antiviral effects are attributed to its ability to inhibit viral replication, interfere with viral attachment and entry into host cells, and modulate immune responses to combat viral infections. [11]

Ginger's antiviral effects may inhibit viral replication

Precautions When Using Herbs for Infections

When using herbs to treat infections, there are some important considerations to remember:

  • Seek Medical Guidance: Before incorporating herbs into your regimen, consult your healthcare provider for tailored advice on herbal treatments that align with your health needs.
  • Select Appropriate Herbs: Different herbs offer varying properties. Opt for herbs that best address the specific infection you are dealing with, considering factors like antibacterial strength or immune support.
  • Prioritize Product Quality: Choose herbal products from reputable sources that adhere to rigorous testing and quality standards.
  • Adhere to Dosage Instructions: Follow dosage guidelines on product labels or as advised by healthcare professionals to avoid adverse effects. Always consult before adjusting dosage or usage methods.
  • Monitor for Side Effects: Be vigilant for unusual symptoms while using herbs. Discontinue use and consult a healthcare provider if adverse reactions occur.
  • Consider Medication Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about any herbs you are using to prevent potential interactions with other medications.
  • Complement Traditional Therapy: While herbs can aid in infection treatment, they should complement rather than replace conventional therapies. Integrate herbs into a holistic treatment plan under medical supervision.
  • Source Quality Herbs: Opt for herbs from reputable suppliers with high ratings, positive reviews, and certifications to ensure product quality.

FAQs

Are Herbs Beneficial for Infections?

The herb has shown promise in treating infections and controlling viral respiratory infections. They have immunostimulating properties and regulate inflammation, supporting the immune response without overreacting. It also helps improve health and the immune system. [1]

What are Some Additional Ways to Support My Immune System?

In addition to using herbs, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and proper hygiene can help support your immune system.

Conclusion

Herbs exhibit promise in treating infections. Each herb possesses unique properties and efficacy, emphasizing the importance of selecting the appropriate herb for your specific infection under medical supervision. The article highlights the best herbs for infections, enriching your knowledge on this subject.

References:

[1] Herbs for Viral Respiratory Infections | Alternative and Complementary Therapies. (2021). Alternative and Complementary Therapies. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/act.2017.29150.eya
[2] Egan, J. M., Kaur, A., Raja, H. A., Kellogg, J. J., Oberlies, N. H., & Cech, N. B. (2016). Antimicrobial fungal endophytes from the botanical medicine goldenseal ( Hydrastis canadensis ). Phytochemistry Letters, 17, 219–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytol.2016.07.031
[3] Clement Olusola Ogidi, Ayokunbi Elizabeth Ojo, Oluwatayo Benjamin Ajayi-Moses, Oluwatoyin Modupe Aladejana, Oluwakemi Abike Thonda, & Bamidele Juliet Akinyele. (2021). Synergistic antifungal evaluation of over-the-counter antifungal creams with turmeric essential oil or Aloe vera gel against pathogenic fungi. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03205-5
[4] Ali, B. Z. (2007). EVALUATION OF MYRRH (COMMIPHORA MOLMOL) ESSENTIAL OIL ACTIVITY AGAINST SOME STORAGE FUNGI. Journal of Al-Nahrain University Science, 10(2), 107–111. https://doi.org/10.22401/jnus.10.2.19
[5] Saeed, S., & Tariq, P. (2009). Antibacterial activity of oregano (Origanum vulgare linn.) against gram positive bacteria. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 22(4), 421–425. https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA295445582&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=1011601X&p=HRCA&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7Ee989d1b5&aty=open-web-entry
[6] Verma, T., Aggarwal, A., Dey, P., Anil Kumar Chauhan, Rashid, S., Chen, K.-T., & Sharma, R. (2023). Medicinal and therapeutic properties of garlic, garlic essential oil, and garlic-based snack food: An updated review. Frontiers in Nutrition, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2023.1120377
[7] The Antimicrobial Activity of Thyme Essential Oil Against Multidrug Resistant Clinical Bacterial Strains | Microbial Drug Resistance. (2021). Microbial Drug Resistance. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/mdr.2011.0080
[8] L. Susan Wieland, Piechotta, V., Feinberg, T., Ludeman, E., Hutton, B., Kanji, S., Seely, D., & Garritty, C. (2021). Elderberry for prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses: a systematic review. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03283-5
[9] Raenu Yucharoen , et al. Inhibitory Effect of Peppermint Extracts and Menthol against Herpes Simplex Virus Infection. 19 Nov. 2011.
[10] Rasouli H, Adibi, H., & Narges Moasefi. (2017, August 4). Peppermint and Its Functionality: A Review. ResearchGate; OMICS Publishing Group. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319529691_Peppermint_and_Its_Functionality_A_Review
[11] Cosmos Ifeanyi Onyiba. (2022). A Systematic Review of Garlic and Ginger as Medicinal Spices against Viral Infections. 2(1), 32–44. https://doi.org/10.21467/exr.2.1.4600
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Author

Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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