Antiviral Herbs: Overview of Herbs for COVID-19, Influenza, the Common Cold, and Other Respiratory Infections


The number of herbs that exist on the planet to treat viruses like COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold are numerous and to list them all would be beyond the scope of this book. Nonetheless, below we’ve listed some of the most important herbs that have strong antiviral effects according to scientific research, particularly against COVID-19. 


NOTE: If you are pregnant or lactating, check with your doctor before using any of these herbs for the treatment of respiratory infection such as COVID.

Star Anise (Illicium verum)

Dr. Metharem Haresh in South Africa prescribes star anise for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Star anise has special properties that make it especially suited to treating COVID-19. It can be used as an essential oil in teas or even in a nebulizer (when diluted with water) to kill the COVID virus as well as other coronaviruses, influenza viruses (both Type A and Type B, H1N1, and H5N1). In addition to its antiviral abilities, star anise is also a powerful digestive tonic that helps alleviate gas. 

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Star Anise contains shikimic acid. The shikimic acid in star anise is chemically altered slightly (to make it patentable and therefore profitable) in Big Pharma laboratories to produce Tamiflu (oseltamivir). Synthetic shikimic acid is the active ingredient in this synthetic antiviral pharmaceutical medicine. Natural shikimic acid, however (like that found in star anise and in pine needle oil), causes far fewer and much less serious side effects than the synthetic shikimic acid in Tamiflu.


Star anise is able to crack through the spike protein on coronaviruses and it also works as an anti-inflammatory and as an antioxidant. It has antimicrobial properties that protect against viruses, bacteria, and some fungi. It has been used to reduce anxiety and depression as well as to alleviate general stress.

Pine Needle Essential Oil (Pinus strobus)

Pinus strobus essential oil contains not only shikimic acid, but also suramin, a substance that has been used to cure autism. Suramin works by preventing the attachment of the COVID virus to the outside of human cells, making it impossible for them to replicate.


Additionally, Pinus strobus has the ability to reduce blood clotting problems that has been a problem for COVID-19 patients. This essential oil contains a high level of vitamin A which increases the production of red blood cells, thereby increasing oxygenation of tissues during infection. It has been used for centuries as a cough expectorant to remove phlegm and chest congestion and for the treatment of sore throats.

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Pharmaceutically derived suramin has been cited as a potentially valuable alternative treatment for long COVID, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other metabolic disorders such as autism that fall into the category of “cell danger response” diseases. Dr. Robert Naviaux is an expert on cell danger response diseases. He’s studied both autism and chronic fatigue syndrome treatment using suramin

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is an herbal treatment for COVID and other respiratory infections. It works by supercharging the immune system, diminishing inflammation, and lowering cortisol levels. This herb will not perform very well though unless you prepare it properly by boiling it in milk with black pepper. The milk makes it more bioavailable and the black pepper enhances its potency. Honey may be used in place of milk for those who are lactose intolerant.

Ashwagandha can be taken during pregnancy.

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Sweet Wormwood / (Artemisia annua)


Artemisia annua releases hydrogen peroxide into the bloodstream when it is taken internally. Food grade hydrogen peroxide is especially effective against viruses like COVID when it is taken in the sunlight because the sunlight causes the hydrogen peroxide molecules to release hydroxl radicals that are able to oxidize viruses such as COVID-19 in a manner similar to chlorine dioxide. Presumably, the hydrogen peroxide in Artemisia annua works through a similar mechanism of action. As such, the use of Artemisia annua as a stand-alone treatment for COVID-19 is most effective if it is taken and then followed up by 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight.

Studies have shown that Artemisia annua may also work by preventing the COVID virus from attaching to the human cell membrane to prevent it from penetrating the cell and replicating in the body. This herb is well known in Chinese medicine for its ability to prevent inflammation of the trachea, cough, and other symptoms of flu. It is used to remove phlegm, and to relieve asthma as well as being used extensively during the pandemic (particularly in Tanzania) to treat COVID-19 naturally.


Artemisinin is a medicinal component of the plant known as Artemisia annua. It can be combined with Quinine (see below), a component of Cinchona bark, to create a powerful anti-COVID medicine. 

Quinine / Cinchona officinalis

Quinine and Artemisinin can be used together to create a powerful anti-COVID remedy. But quinine by itself has been shown in studies to be effective as a COVID-19 treatment too. One study showed that quinine was at least as effective, if not more effective than chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are, after all, synthetic analogs of this natural substance known as quinine (which is derived from the Cinchona tree).

Quinine appears to be effective not only at treating the initial viral infection, but also as an immune regulator to prevent and treat the COVID cytokine storm. Quinine is a famous treatment for fever and it has been shown to dramatically reduce the viral load of COVID-19 even when patients are in the midst of a heavy infection. Many people use quinine to prevent and treat painful leg cramps.

Frankincense / Boswellic Acids (Boswellia serrata)

Frankincense or the boswellic acids of different frankincense plants are extremely valuable in health settings which is perhaps why frankincense was one of the gifts given to Jesus by the three wise men. Frankincense is one of the most important essential oil treatments that brain cancer patients can use to cure their cancer gently and safely. It is also used to successfully cure ovarian cancer and other reproductive organ cancers.  

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As an antiviral medicine, frankincense and the boswellic acids it contains are able to work against a variety of diseases and pathogens. However, some illnesses respond more quickly to treatment with frankincense and in fact, some respond best to a specific type of boswellic acid. AKBA is a type of boswellic acid that is purportedly very potent. 


As a treatment for COVID, frankincense essential oil can be used not only as an antiviral medicine, but also as a medicine that can calm a cytokine storm when it is administered at the correct dose. It also has the ability to heal the lung, particularly lesions in the lungs to help prevent secondary infection or the development of other health issues. 

Palo de Campeche / Haematoxylum campechianum

This tree is famous as the source of the histological stain hematoxylin. Though it has been used a lot for diagnostic purposes in medicine, its medicinal properties are far less well known despite their utility. Palo de Campeche / H. campechianum can be used to treat urinary tract infection (UTIs), kidney infection, poor blood circulation, sepsis, anemia, nerve problems / neuropathy, high blood pressure, obesity, Tuberculosis, cancer, stomach pain, intestinal colic, leg pain, diabetic ulcers, inflammation, vaginal discharge (leukorrhea), gangrenous lesions / gangrene, depression, toothache, and fevers. It is a good treatment for systemic Candida albicans infections as well as Long COVID.

It may be difficult to get Palo de Campeche in the U.S and Europe. An alternative is Pau d’Arco / Tabebuia impetiginosa.

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Woad (Isatis indigotica)

Woad is a valuable herbal treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is used to reduce fevers and to stop cytokine storms that are caused by viral or bacterial infection. Woad has been used to treat a variety of diseases that are normally very difficult to cure. For example, it is used to treat Japanese Encephalitis, a disease endemic to China with a very high mortality rate. It can be used on the skin to treat psoriasis. And it has been used to treat measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, leukemia, and SARS. So it’s not surprising that woad can also be used to treat COVID-19. 

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Woad works by inhibiting COVID proteases that make it possible for the viruses to grow and mature and become capable of replication. 

Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata)

Back in 2005, during the SARS epidemic, a disease that had a much higher mortality rate than COVID-19, a group of scientists studied four different herbs that were good candidates for treating this disease and found that Lycoris radiata had the most potent effects against the SARS virus. They did further studies and isolated the substance lycorine from the plant and determined that lycorine was the most active herbal substance that was able to fight SARS. 


When the COVID pandemic started, scientists revisited these SARS studies and conducted new studies to determine if the Lycoris radiata herb would also work to cure COVID. Lycorine is an antiviral substance that specifically works to kill COVID-19 viruses. It works by inhibiting the activity of RNA dependent RNA polymerase and experts have noted that it exerts a stronger antiviral effect than even Artemisia annua


Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata)

Scientists have studied the chameleon plant both in petri dishes and inside the human body and they’ve found that this plant has excellent antiviral capabilities against both Dengue Fever and coronavirus infections. It works by inhibiting the RNA dependent RNA polymerase enzyme which is essential in the life cycle of the COVID-19 virus. In other words, by breaking down this enzyme, the chameleon plant is able to disrupt the COVID virus’ life cycle such that patients with COVID experience a shorter duration of illness and/or lessened severity of the illness.

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In addition to its ability to disrupt vital enzymes that the COVID virus needs in order to replicate, H. cordata is also able to inhibit the production of proteases that make it possible for the virus to grow and mature. 


The chameleon plant has a low toxicity level according to studies in animals and scientists believe that it is safe for human consumption.


Japanese Torreya (Torreya nucifera)

Japanese Torreya is a traditional medicinal plant used in Asia. Scientists discovered that it was able to inhibit the SARS virus through a variety of mechanisms. It contains compounds such as luteolin and quercetin which are present in a variety of plants that have been shown to have anti-COVID effects. 

South African Geranium (Pelargonium sidoides)

Traditional medicinal use of Pelargonium sidoides is common in South Africa. Roots of the P. sidoides plant have been used most commonly in the treatment of digestive issues such as diarrhea and dysentery, but occasionally, traditional medicine specialists have also used the plant to treat respiratory infection. 


The antiviral effects of P. sidoides works by inhibiting viral replication.

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Nonetheless, scientists made an aqueous-ethanolic formula using the South African geranium plant to treat bronchitis and sinusitis with success. The plant has antimycobacterial abilities, and as such, it is able to treat the cancer-causing mycobacteria. The South African geranium is able to inhibit the interaction between bacteria and human cells through an interesting mechanism in which tiny hairs in the bronchial tubes develop an increase in their “beat frequency” to keep the bacteria out of the delicate lung tissues. In addition to its anti-COVID medicinal effects, the South African geranium has significant antibacterial properties against multi-drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 

Turmeric / Curcuma longa

Turmeric is an herb that is often used as a spice to flavor food, but turmeric also contains the compound known as curcumin. Curcumin, when taken at the proper dose and in the proper format, has powerful healing properties that have been used in a variety of hospital settings including for the treatment of cancer and COVID-19. Importantly, for our discussion here, the use of intravenous curcumin has been used to calm cytokine storms and rebalance the immune system in serious viral infections. It has been used successfully even in extremely deadly diseases like Ebola. 

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During the terminal stage of an Ebola infection, the overproduction of a specific set of cytokines causes the characteristic hemorrhagic symptoms which include profuse bruising and bleeding. The most severe COVID-19 infections also involve strong cytokine storms of a different character that cause blood clotting, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and more. But studies have reliably shown that curcumin, when given intravenously at the proper dose, is able to block cytokine release. It particularly affects interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, the cytokines that are primarily responsible for causing exaggerated inflammatory responses.


In addition to curcumin’s ability to calm a COVID cytokine storm, it also functions as an antiviral. Curcumin is well known for its ability to reduce fevers, reduce inflammation, reduce fatigue, and even reduce pain. 


Herbs That Work by Inhibiting COVID Virus Attachment and Human Cell Penetration

Below are herbs that are able to prevent viral infection, specifically infection with COVID-19, by preventing the viruses ability to attach to human cells or the virus’ ability to penetrate human cells such that viral reproduction is not possible. In the very early stages of infection, if viral reproduction isn’t possible, the person does not get sick with the infection and the immune system is able to kill whatever viruses are inside the body without causing illness. Or, if the patient is already ill and has a high viral load, herbs that inhibit COVID virus attachment and/or penetration will significantly shorten the duration of the illness while also diminishing the severity of the infection. 


Rhus chinensis – This herb appears to prevent coronavirus attachment and penetration via the plant compounds known as luteolin and tetra-O-galloyl-beta-glucose (TGG). Studies have shown that this anti-COVID herb is a safe treatment option for humans.


Veronica linariifolia Pall. – This herb also contains luteolin and tetra-O-galloyl-beta-glucose (TGG) which prevents viral attachment and penetration of human cells. This herb has been studied and proven to be safe for human use. 


Glycyrrhiza glabra L. / Licorice Root – Scientific studies have shown that this herb is able to prevent viral attachment and penetration of human cells. Licorice root is an herb that has been famous since antiquity for its ability to fight serious viral infections including asthma, chronic bronchitis, allergies, and even stomach ulcers. Indeed, studies have shown that licorice root is more effective than synthetic antivirals such as ribavirin, 6-azauridine, pyrazofurin, and mycophenolic acid. Though licorice root is an effective antiviral, it is still unclear whether or not this herb can downregulate a cytokine storm caused by COVID or not. 

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Rheum officinaleThis anti-COVID herb contains emodin, a compound that is able to prevent coronavirus attachment and penetration of human cells.


Polygonum multiflorum Once again, emodin is the compound found in this plant that appears to be able to prevent human cell attachment and penetration of the COVID virus.


Sambucus formosana Nakai / Elderberry – Sambucus has a strong antiviral effect on the body and at the same time, it is very safe for humans. It works by preventing the COVID virus from being able to bind to human cells. The compounds responsible for this effect appear to be caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and gallic acid.

Anti-COVID Herbs that Enhance Human Immunity

The enhancement of the human immune system can help reduce the viral load during a COVID-19 infection. The herb below works through this mechanism of action against COVID.


Epimedium koreanum – This herb is used to prevent diarrhea and to clean the intestines while simultaneously modulating macrophage and lymphocyte response. E. koreanum contains the compounds quercetin and icariin. Its antiviral activity has been attributed to reactive oxygen species release. Studies have shown that it has antiviral effects against various coronavirus subtypes including the SM98 subtype and transmissible gastroenteritis coronavirus (TGE). 

Anti-COVID Herbs that Work by Inhibiting RNA and Protein Synthesis


Another way to treat COVID-19 is to use herbs that inhibit COVID-19 RNA or the ability for COVID viruses to make proteins. Pharmaceuticals such as Remdesivir is a polymerase inhibitor that works by inhibiting the RNA dependent RNA polymerase enzyme which is necessary in order for the COVID virus to successfully replicate inside human cells. Remdesivir works by breaking down this enzyme which disrupts the life cycle of the COVID-19 virus and it has been used to treat a variety of viral infections including HIV-1, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Zika, and the Herpes virus. 


Finding herbs that have a similar medicinal action to that of Remdesivir can shorten the duration of a COVID infection and/or lessen the severity of the infection. Below are herbs that work through mechanisms similar to that of Remdesivir.


Sanguisorba officinalis  – This anti-COVID herb exhibits antiviral activity against the coronavirus RNA and the virus’ ability to manufacture protein. Scientists believe that it may be able to negatively impact the formation of the COVID virus nucleocapsid. 


Stephania tetrandra Stephania tetrandra is an herb with anti-COVID properties that also works by preventing the virus from being able to make proteins. It also inhibits COVID-19 RNA. 


Strobilanthes cusia This herb also works against COVID by preventing the manufacture of COVID-19 proteins. 


Acanthopanax gracilistylus In scientific studies, this herb was able to reduce the concentration of RNA inside human cells. 


Torilis japonica T. japonica was also able to reduce RNA concentrations in human cells. 


Sophora flavescensS. flavescens also reduces COVID RNA levels inside human cells. 


Forsythia suspensaF. suspensa contains a compound known as forsythoside A. This compound is capable of reducing the replication of viruses and it has been used successfully to treat the infectious bronchitis virus as well as the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is often used to prevent fever, inflammation, and vomiting. 


Phellodendron chinense Inhibits RNA dependent RNA polymerase to disrupt the life cycle of the COVID virus.


Sophora subprostata – Inhibits RNA dependent RNA polymerase to disrupt the life cycle of the COVID virus.


Phoradendron meliae – Inhibits RNA dependent RNA polymerase to disrupt the life cycle of the COVID virus.


Cimicifuga racemosa – Inhibits RNA dependent RNA polymerase to disrupt the life cycle of the COVID virus.


Coptic chinensis – Inhibits RNA dependent RNA polymerase to disrupt the life cycle of the COVID virus.


Anti-COVID Herbs That Inhibit Viral Proteases

Two viral proteases play an important role in the replication of the COVID virus. These two viral proteases, known as 3CLpro and PLpro are necessary for the virus to grow and mature. Without these enzymes, the COVID virus is not able to get mature enough to reproduce. The herb below is able to inhibit the COVID virus through this mechanism of action.


Rheum palmatum / Chinese Rhubarb – This plant works through the inhibition of proteases that make it possible for the COVID virus to mature into an entity capable of replication.


Other Important Links:

The Sea, Salt, and Water: How Salt and Drinking Sea Water Can Cure Long COVID and Lessen the Effects of an Active COVID-19 Infection

Cinnamomum verum / Cinnamon: A Surprising Herbal Remedy for Adenovirus Infection, Chronic Lung Disease, and More

Chlorine Dioxide Solution and Reactive Oxygen Species Medicine: Basic Overview

Hedera helix / English Ivy: Herbal Remedy for COPD, Bronchitis, Jaundice, and Abnormal Blood Clotting

Curcuma longa / Turmeric: Herbal Remedy for COPD, Radiation Induced Lung Injury, and More 

Suramin and Pine Needle Essential Oil: Natural Treatment for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Lobelia inflata: Herbal Remedy for Nicotine Addiction and Lung Disease

Kalmegh / Andrographis paniculata: Herbal Cure for Bronchitis, Influenza, Chronic Lung Disease and More

Frankincense Essential Oil: Powerful Herbal Treatment for COVID and Other Respiratory Infections

Centella asiatica / Gotu Kola: An Herbal Remedy for Tuberculosis, Severe Lung Disease, Neuropathy, and More

Ashwagandha / Withania somnifera: An Ayurvedic Herb for COVID, Long Haul COVID, Coronavirus, Influenza, and General Well-Being


Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia annua) and Artemisinin as a Cancer Cure

Pau d’Arco – Tabebuia impetiginosa: Powerful Herbal Treatment for Long COVID and COVID-19

Woad (Isatis indigotica): Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedy for COVID-19, Influenza, and Other Respiratory Infections

Long COVID Stages of Healing: Our Personal Healing Experience

Suramin and Pine Needle Essential Oil: Natural Treatment for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder



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