10 Incredibly Powerful Antiviral Herbs

These 10 antiviral herbs are often used to help people stay healthy, minimize symptoms, and shorten the duration of illnesses at home.


Image by Ajale from Pixabay

Why Are Antiviral Herbs Important?

Viruses are the most prolific biological forms on the planet. They exist everywhere and have the potential to infect every single living being. Just to give you an idea of how many viruses there are, if you laid them all out in a line, they would stretch for 100 million light years.1)https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro2644

Now, not all of those 100 million light years’ worth of viruses are harmful to people. But new viruses that can infect humans are being discovered constantly.

Viruses are also mutating and changing all the time. That’s why things like annual flu vaccinations aren’t always effective. Flu strains vary from year to year, so it’s hard for vaccine makers to predict which strains will be prevalent each season.

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It’s also extremely difficult to treat viruses after you are infected. That’s because viruses infect our cells and use our cells to replicate themselves. Since we’ve all got different genetic and lifestyle factors that impact how viruses work in our bodies, effective antiviral drugs are difficult for drug manufacturers to produce.

Right now, there are only a very limited number of effective antiviral drugs available. For example, there are antivirals for HIV, hepatitis B and C, some herpes viruses, and influenza A and B.

10 Powerful Antiviral Herbs

Fortunately, there are quite a few natural herbs you can use at home that may offer some protection against certain viruses settling in, limit the duration of a viral infection once begun, or reduce symptoms during virus-related illness. Some herbs can offer additional health support when used along with medically prescribed antivirals in viruses that are difficult to keep dormant or vaccinate against.

Let’s take a look at 10 great antiviral herbs that you may want to include in your home-based apothecary.

1. Echinacea


Echinacea, also called coneflower (when you grow it in your garden), is an easy-to-use entry point into making your own antiviral protection.

Echinacea purpurea, commonly called purple coneflower, can be effective for use in treating viruses such as avian influenza, herpes simplex virus (HSV), respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinoviruses (common cold).2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058675/ It has also shown some effectiveness at preventing respiratory viruses if taken in time. According to available studies, ethanol extractions made primarily of the plant’s aerial parts may be more effective than decoctions as a preventative or in the early stages of a virus.

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Other varieties of echinacea may also have some effectiveness in the treatment of specific viruses. The aerial parts of E. angustifolia can be effective for influenza A, HSV-1, and rhinovirus. The roots of E. angustifolia work for HSV-1. The aerial parts and roots of E. pallida are good for HSV-1 and HSV-2. Finally, using the entire flower, including stems, of  E. sanguinea can help with HSV-1 and influenza A.

2. Elder


Elder is a kind of shrubby tree that produces prolific flowers and berries. Both the flowers and the berries have benefits in herbal medicine. They are also often used to make tasty beverages and jams.

Elderberry syrup, made from the berries of Sambucus nigra, commonly called European Elderberry, is considered to be very effective at treating the common cold. It works to reduce duration, and simultaneously mitigate symptoms, of a cold.

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Elderberry is also considered a good general immune booster because it contains anthocyanidins that are known to stimulate the immune system.3)https://draxe.com/elderberry/ In addition, it works well as protection from and treatment for the flu.

The most common way to use elderberry as an antiviral is to take the berries in a concentrated syrup form. However, you can also make teas from the dried berries or drink fresh juice.

3. Chinese Skullcap


I know … the name is pretty unappealing. It’s actually just the appearance of the flowers that earn it this designation. To me, it looks a bit like an executioner’s hood from medieval times. But, I don’t think calling it “Executioner’s Hood” would make it sound like a very safe herbal remedy to use at home.

We could also use its Latin name, Scutellaria baicalensis. In this case, the Latin name can be pretty important, too, because there is also an American Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora, which is not known to be beneficial as an antiviral. (Though it offers other benefits).

In any case, with thousands of years of anecdotal evidence on its utility in Chinese medicine and a host of studies suggesting it might have a long list of antiviral benefits, you’ll want to remember Chinese skullcap when flu season comes around. You may also want to do deeper research on its potential utility for sendai virus (parainfluenza), respiratory syncytial virus, vesicular stomatitis, HIV-1, hepatitis A and C, hepatitis B (resistant and non-resistant), and coliphage MS2.

Though the flowers are beautiful and this plant is often grown as an ornamental, you’ll want to use the root to get the antiviral benefits. It’s most often used in powdered form in capsules or as a tincture. But some people also make it as a tea.

4. Ginger


Ginger is my favorite antiviral. Not only is it something I can grow myself or find at just about any grocery store, but it tastes so good! This is important because unlike some antivirals which only shorten the length of symptoms, ginger has the power to inhibit the development of viruses.

Yep, it actually stops some viruses from replicating, which means the virus doesn’t get to take over your cells and make you symptomatic. Some research suggests that ginger may be beneficial as an inhibitor of norovirus, the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which is common in children, influenza A, the common cold, and HSV-1 and HSV-2.4)https://www.realnatural.org/ginger-antiviral/

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Using fresh, grated ginger in a smoothie or salad dressing are good ways to get lots of it in its raw and most potent form. You can also use it in your Four Thieves Tonic (a.k.a. Fire Cider).

5. Garlic


I am going to quote The Grow Network’s fearless founder, Marjory Wildcraft, on the benefits of garlic. In her incredible (and free) e-Book on “Garlic: Your First Home Remedy,” Marjory says:

Scientific study upon scientific study have shown that garlic reduces inflammation; fights bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites; helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy; and even kills cancer cells.

So, it’s not just an antiviral, it’s an anti-everything bad for you! Plus, most of us have it in our kitchen right now. Rather than ramble on about how incredible garlic is for immune boosting, I’ll let you download your free copy of Marjory’s book and get all the details on how to use this fantastic home remedy to prevent illness and promote positive health: “Garlic: Your First Home Remedy”

6. Oregano


Is it just me, or are all these antivirals making you hungry? Ginger, garlic, and now oregano! Did you know virus protection could be so delicious?

For oregano to be really effective as an antiviral, though, you need to use its distilled oil version.5)https://draxe.com/antiviral-herbs/ And, it takes about 1,000 pounds of oregano to make 1 pound of oregano oil. So, adding some extra to pizza sauce won’t quite do the job.

Still, the potent compound carvacrol is so effective at reversing viral infections, and oregano is so easy to grow, that this is one herb you might be able to grow enough of to make your own essential oil of oregano at home. Even if you have to buy it, this is a great one to have in your medicine cabinet.

I also personally drink dried oregano tea all winter long. It’s got more body than some other mint teas, doesn’t need sugar, and with a pinch of salt, helps keep me well-hydrated when the heater goes on. I don’t think there are any studies to prove this is beneficial for virus protection, but it makes me feel good!

7. St. John’s Wort


If you are looking for an antiviral you can grow in part shade, St. John’s Wort is your best bet. By nature, it’s a forest edge or understory plant that grows in dappled sunlight. It can also grow in full shade. But for best flower production, it needs a fair amount of sun.

This is important because for medicinal use, St. John’s Wort must be harvested shortly after flowering. The flowers, leaves, and stalks are all used. They are often dried and ground or used as a tea.6)https://draxe.com/antiviral-herbs/

Although most people think of St. John’s Wort as a depression treatment, it contains potent chemicals called hypercin and pseudohypericin that proactively fight off viruses like herpes, HIV and hepatitis C.7)https://draxe.com/antiviral-herbs/ Additionally, it may promote healing and fight off other viruses, too.8)https://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-st-johns-wort-safe-080615#3

8. Olive Leaf


We often consider “the olive branch” as a sign of peace or reconciliation. Not so if you are a virus!

Extracts taken from the leaves of the olive branch are powerful virus inhibitors that are known to be effective against influenza, herpes, polio, and coxsackie viruses.9)https://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-st-johns-wort-safe-080615#3 Additionally, the leaves of the Olea europaea may be effective at reversing many HIV-1 related changes.10)https://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-st-johns-wort-safe-080615#3

This antiviral can be taken as an extract that can be purchased or the leaves can be used as a tea.  You already knew olive oil was good for you—now you can add olive leaves to the list, too!

9. Calendula


Beautiful and hard-working—what more could you want in an antiviral? Oh, and did I mention that it makes your skin (and not just your garden) more stunning? Calendula officinalis is so useful that it can seem a bit too good to be true. Thankfully, it’s not.

The Grow Network offers incredibly high-quality, Demeter-Certified Biodynamic calendula in our TGN Store. Click here to add “beyond organic” calendula to your medicine-making kit!

Pharmacological studies do, in fact, support the benefits of C. officinalis as an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant.11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841996/ With respect to its use as an antiviral, this plant is particularly powerful when fortified with sunflower oil.12)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841996/

10. Holy Basil


Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), also called tulsi, is a delicious, easy-to-grow herb that is very often used as a tea or culinary spice. In Hindu culture, it’s called the queen of herbs and is used as a general health tonic.

Research suggests that tulsi boosts the immune system by increasing cytokine and immune-cell efficacy in mounting immune responses. 13)https://articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/holy-basil.aspx For this reason, it is considered a helpful herb that works as an antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic (painkiller), as well as being an antiviral.14)https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/basil-benefits#body-benefits

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It’s great to take some tulsi tea when you are recovering from surgery, or even when you are just having a bad day. That’s because this revered holy herb is also reputed to be excellent for helping you cope with stress and be happy.

Sometimes just being in a good mood is the best medicine to stay healthy and prevent viruses from getting a foothold in your cells. So, have a cup of tulsi and enjoy life!

What Do You Think?

There you have it, 10 great antivirals to add to your good-health regimen. Do you have favorites you prefer or experiences to share on using antivirals? Let us know in the comments!


This article was originally published May 28, 2019. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments, however we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!

Psst! Our Lawyer Wants You to Read This Big, Bad Medical Disclaimer –> The contents of this article, made available via The Grow Network (TGN), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by TGN. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never eat a wild plant without first checking with a local expert.

The Grow Network is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for our team to earn fees for recommending our favorite products! We may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase an item after clicking one of our links. Thanks for supporting TGN!

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1 https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro2644
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058675/
3 https://draxe.com/elderberry/
4 https://www.realnatural.org/ginger-antiviral/
5, 6, 7 https://draxe.com/antiviral-herbs/
8, 9, 10 https://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-st-johns-wort-safe-080615#3
11, 12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841996/
13 https://articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/holy-basil.aspx
14 https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/basil-benefits#body-benefits
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  • sonbyrd says:

    I would add lomatium to hits list for its ability to attack the ubiquitous herpes virus, one that 90+% of humans carry whether it’s active or not.

    1. Louise says:

      Hi Sonbyrd, Lomatium is one of several medically recognized cures for the flu. Dr. Ernst Krebs of
      Carson City found that the Washoe Indians were uniquely not dying during the 1918 flu epidemic, due to the herbal. It is effective against both viral and bacterial microbes.
      However, it is easier to grow garlic and my Music and Spanish Roja are about ready for harvest, while my onions are still growing. People need to learn how to use these gifts of nature dermally plus consuming them.

      1. Tasha Greer says:

        Louise – Thank you for that background history on Lomatium! But I am with you on the garlic being wonderful since it is so easy to grow. I planted 300 pieces of garlic last October. I just pulled a few test bulbs yesterday to make sure they were ready for curing and it looks like I am clear to harvest this week! I’m just letting the soil dry out a bit so I’ll get a clean harvest.

    2. Tasha Greer says:

      Hi Sonbyrd – Thank you for sharing this recommendation! I have never tried this one. But some quick research seems to suggest it does have a lot of powerful properties. I’ve got asthma and it also looks like it may be very useful for that too. I saw a few mentions about it being difficult to grow commercially and as such it might be over harvested in some areas. So, it seems like this one might be something buyers will want to make sure has been responsibly harvested. Thank you again for sharing!

  • Scott Sexton says:

    I had no idea you could use olive leaves. Thanks! I’ve been looking for an excuse to try to push the zone with a cold hardy-ish olive tree. I love your other picks too. Captivating article!

  • Lisa K says:

    Good article, most of the items I either have on hand or grow!

  • Tasha Greer says:

    Hi Readers – It’s almost a year since I originally wrote this post. And back at that time, I certainly didn’t have COVID-19 in mind.

    So, I just want to clarify that in response to COVID-19 – The key things to do are stay home, keep 6 feet of distance between you and anyone not in your household, wash your hands for 20 seconds often, and don’t touch your face. If we all treat this as the serious issue it is and do our part to limit transmission through social-distancing, we not only show our love and respect for our fellow humans, but we can save lives.

    Also, if you aren’t already focused on greater self-sufficiency, then even more than antivirals, now is the time to start thinking about homesteading in earnest. COVID-19, and all the related economic fall out, hoarding, and confusion have made me more convinced than ever that Homesteading is a Radical Re-evolution. In fact, here’s what I wrote on that subject in 2015: https://thegrownetwork.com/homesteading-a-radical-re-evolution/. And it still rings true today.

    Stay safe and thoughtful by staying home when you can. All that time not spent commuting and racing about in the world might just give you the window of opportunity you need to take plan for and increase your homestead self-sufficiency.

    Wishing you all good health or fast healing during these difficult times. Tasha

    1. ajswack says:

      I have a friend from venezuela who told me they are using moringa powder as a preventative to help fight off sarscov They take it as tea or add a teaspoon to juice or water once daily. They have also seen miraculous turnarounds of breathing difficulties with use of a warm tea made with a quarter or half teaspoonful of fresh ground black pepper mixed in a cup of hot water with lemon and honey. They take this pepper tea three times a day for a week, then twice daily for a week and then once daily for a week. He says his family and friends have seen pretty miraculous turnarounds with this tea. I will add the disclaimer that he is not a doctor and this is not intended to be medical advice but I thought it was really interesting and wanted to share.

  • Iris Weaver says:

    Thanks for the update, Tasha.

  • Lori Snyder says:

    thank you for taking the time to repost and share this knowledge. I find it helpful when the plants are listed with their latin name so I can clearly identify the species. The photo of St’John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum) might not be the St. John;s wort (Hypericum perforatum) you wanted to feature.

  • J Mueller says:

    Thank you for this timely review. I grow Elderberry, Ginger and Oregano. Disappointed to hear that Oregano is not as potent as I thought. I do swallow a teaspoon of finely diced ginger almost every night to help fight indigestion. Every year I collect enough Elderberries to make 5 to 10 gallons of wine.
    Hope somebody can help: Does Elderberry lose any of its health benefit when made into jelly? What about when made into wine (never exposed to heat above 100 degrees) with an alcohol content anywhere from 14 to 18 percent and frozen before fermenting?

  • Nick says:

    Nice list. Tho I thought horseradish root would’ve held a higher place on the list. I know it’s like a weed where i live, but maybe all the more reason to include it, at least along side mention of ginger & garlic. Then what about turmeric? Some lung support herbs would help in these near pandemonial times.

  • Margaret says:

    Mullein is a great herb for lungs and shows antiviral capabilities.

  • Valorie says:

    God has truly blessed us with an abundance of options – in every part of the country – to help us stay or get healthy! So much to learn and practice… thanks for the info.

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