∞ Herbal antivirals destroy or suppress growth of viruses on contact. However, these herbal antivirals are not necessarily able to destroy or suppress growth of a flu virus or other systemic virus in your body. The type of herbs used for the flu and other viral illness are used to support the bodies immune system rather than attacking the virus in your body.This is true for all systemic viral illness in the body. In a systemic illness the herb can not contact the virus directly. The only way the herb can work in the body is as an immunomodulator, affecting the immune system and therefore working indirectly as an antiviral.
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An antiviral herb can act directly on a virus if it can actually reach the virus. This means using an antiviral on skin or mucous membranes for a virus affecting that area can be useful. There are many herbs that are truly antiviral on direct contact with a virus. External use of these herbs that are directly antiviral can be beneficial in specific instances such as on herpes lesions. Any place on the body that an herb with antiviral activity can reach the infected area physically, it can act as an antiviral. This would be everything in the respiratory tract and the digestive tract theoretically. In the respiratory tract these herbs need to be used as herbal steam inhalations (they have to be used in an appropriate and safe manner). On the lips essential oil could be used in a diluted manner. In the mouth teas for rinses are nice. Teas are also nice as gargles for the throat. In the nasal passages a tea or more commonly diluted essential oils are used in a neti pot or an inhlation. They can also be used anywhere on the external skin or mucous membranes as well as the anus or vagina. We do need to be aware that some of these herbs may irritate the skin and mucous membranes if used in excess concentrations or amounts.
Killing Viruses On Contact
Various herbs and especially their essential oils have been shown to kill viruses on contact both on skin and mucous membranes as well as on objects in our environment. These essential oils can be used to prevent spread of infections. Businesses can use this idea to decrease spread of disease by wiping down shared business phones with antiviral essential oils that have been diluted and put into a spray bottle. Other areas to consider are door knobs, or any items that are shared amongst people. You have to be careful about essential oils around electronics. Although I have used diluted essential oils for cleaning keyboards and cell phones, it is possible to damage electronic devices with the use of essential oils. Even water can damage these devises. I often use a mix of orange and lavender in a base of 20% alcohol (the alcohol base is 95% pure distilled organic alcohol that I use) and 80% water. Many people like those smells together and they work well as a disinfectant. There are now many products available on the market that have essential oils in them as cleaning agents. Some of these are very simple formulas and similar to something you might make up yourself.
Systemic Viral Infections And Why Antivirals Can't Kill Them Directly
The internal use of herbs for systemic illness does not allow herbs to act directly on viruses. In our bodies, viruses are able to seek shelter by hiding within our own cells. They are tricky little buggers and actually cloak themselves inside of our cells. So, the antiviral herbs, or what many people call antiviral herbs are actually not attacking the virus directly when taking them for a systemic viral infection. Herbs that help protect us in viral infections are actually acting on our immune system, which then goes to work on the virus. These types of herbs are more accurately called immunomodulators.
Immunomodulators affect the immune system rather than acting directly as an antiviral. Most of these herbs support the body’s immune system and its ability to fight or control invading organisms. This is generally how herbs work when using them for a viral condition. They are supporting your bodies inate ability to find and remove a virus. Viruses are very tricky though. They will hide inside your bodies cells and make it hard for your immune system to get to them also. Sometimes the immune system has to kill your own cells to get the virus. Therefore you will see situations where our bodies learn to live with viruses that inhabit the body, hiding out until a perfect situation allows them to pop up again. Herpes viruses are well known for this behavior. Keeping your immune system in good condition stops these viruses from taking advantage of you. There is a lot of research on the use of antiviral and immunomodulating herbs to be found on the website https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov where you can look up specific viruses and specific herbs or just look up general antiviral herbs.
Herb Examples With Antiviral Activity and Immunomulating Activity
These are herbs that are used as a topical antivirals/imunomodulators. Remember when being used for systemic viral infections, they help with immune system support only, rather than directly attacking a virus. A link is provided to a short monograph for each herb.
• Astragalus - Astragalus membranaceus
• Cedar scales - Thuja spp.
• Echinacea - Echinacea spp.
• Garlic - fresh - Allium sativa
• Hyssop - Hyssopus officinalis
• Lemon balm - Melissa officinalis
• Licorice - Glycyrrhiza glabra
• Lomatium - Lomatium dissectum
• Osha - Ligusticum porteri
• Paracress - Spilanthes acmella
Check out this link for additional data on the immune system and how herbs are used to support the immune system when someone has the flu or other viral infections.
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