Antibacterial & Antiviral Herbs and How To Use Them

Antibacterial & Antiviral Herbs and How To Use Them

Before using antibacterial or antiviral herbs, it is suggested that you consult an herbal medicine guide or herbalist for exact dosing instructions.  Your body is unique and your specific needs will likely be unique as well.

Antibacterial Herbs:

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Calendula can be used in first-aid to heal wounds, prevent infection and treat pink eye. It can be prepared in different ways, including infusions, tinctures, lotions and ointments.  No known precautions.
  • Cinnamon (Cinamomum zeylanicum): Cinnamon warms the body, aids in digestion and is used for its antibacterial properties.  It can be taken as a tea, added to food or the essential oil can be used.  When using it as an essential oil, remember to use a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
  • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): Though clove is typically used as a topical analgesic, clove-infused oil or clove essential oil can also be used to kill bad intestinal bacteria.  For internal use, use in cooking or make a cup of clove tea.  If using topically, always dilute in a carrier oil.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum): As an antibacterial herb, Garlic is more effective against several types of bacteria than penicillin.  It is also friendlier to the body than antibiotics because it attacks the offending bacteria without wiping out the body's normal flora. Garlic can be used as a tincture, capsule, infused in oil or simply added to your diet (if cooking with garlic, avoid heating past 130 degrees Fahrenheit, as that will decrease its potency).
  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia): Taken a the onset of an infection, Echinacea can speed the healing process.  It is most effective when taken as a tincture over a long period of time.  Do not use if you have an auto-immune disease.
  • Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia aquifolium): Oregon grape root is a potent antibacterial herb, especially when combined with Echinacea.  Do not take if pregnant, breastfeeding or if you have a history of diabetes, stroke, hypertension or glaucoma.  Take as a tincture, but not for long-term treatment, as it can decrease Vitamin B absorption.
  • Marshmallow Root (Althea officinalis L.): In addition to pain-easing properties, Marshmallow Root soothes, lubricates, softens and heals.  It also contains tannins found effective in urinary tract infections.  It can be taken internally as a tea.
  • Usnea (Usnea barbata): This common lichen is antibacterial and antifungal.  A powerful antibiotic, Usnea is used to treat urinary tract infections, strep and staph infections, respiratory and sinus infections as well as fungal infections like yeast and vaginosis.  It is best used as a tincture.  No known precautions, but consult an herbalist before using during pregnancy.
  • Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi): Uva Ursi is often used as a tincture or capsule for treating urinary tract infections as it contains compounds effective at killing pathogens typically associated with UTIs.  Due to its strength, it should not be used continually for longer than 2 weeks.  Not for use by children, pregnant or nursing women or for those with kidney disease.
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Tiny yarrow flowers have a number of different uses.  As a powder, they stop bleeding quickly.  Infused in water, it speeds the healing of canker sores.  As a tea, yarrow is used to fight urinary tract infections.  Because it can cause uterine contractions, avoid during pregnancy.

Antiviral Herbs:

  • Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceus): Astragalus is one of the antiviral herbs that works by boosting the immune system.  Taken internally, either as a capsule, tincture or by adding it to soup.  It is known to increase your body's defense against viruses.  It is best used as prevention, so taking it during flu season or before going places with large crowds of people. Avoid if you already have a fever.
  • Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa): In addition to being an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb, Cat's Claw is also known for boosting the immune system and increasing your body's protection against illness.  It can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule.  Do not use during pregnancy.
  • Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon): Cranberry is a potent defense against urinary tract infections due to its ability to make the bladder lining too "slippery" to adhere to.  Full of antioxidants, cranberry also has antiviral properties and prevents plaque formation on teeth.  It can be taken in a capsule or as a juice (make sure it is unsweetened).
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): Elderberry is used as a remedy for viral infections like the flu and common cold. It stimulates circulation, causing sweating, effectively cleansing the body. Elderberry syrup is the common delivery method and 1 - 3 tablespoons can be taken per day during infection.  Leaves, roots, seeds and berries of the raw plant contain cyanide-producing compounds and should not be consumed without cooking properly.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Ginger is another herb known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.  It is used to prevent and decrease the duration of the common cold.  It can be taken as a tea, in capsule form or added to meals.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): An important volatile oil found in Lemon Balm contains antiviral properties.  Lemon Balm leaf makes a tasty tea that can also relieve an upset stomach and promote calm. May be unsafe to consume during pregnancy.
  • Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Licorice is antiviral and antibacterial.  It is commonly used for gastric ulcers as it kills H. pylori (causes ulcers) without upsetting the stomach.  Steep these antiviral herbs as a tea and drink by itself or blended with other herbal teas.  Avoid during pregnancy.
  • Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus): Mullein-infused oil is a great remedy for ear problems, including ear infections, especially when combined with garlic.  Use the Mullein flowers to create an infused oil.
  • Olive Leaf (Olea europaea): As an antiviral herb; Olive Leaf is used to treat the flu, common cold and herpes.  It can be taken as a tincture, capsule or tea mixed with mint. Avoid during pregnancy.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare): In addition to adding great flavor to food, Oregano also fights viruses and bacteria.  It is one of the best antiviral herbs available.  During an infection, Oregano essential oil can be taken in a capsule to speed healing.  If using Oregano essential oil topically, use a carrier oil to prevent irritation.

How to Use Herbs:

  1. Tea: Herbal teas are simple to make and require only a cup, hot water and a way to steep your tea.  To make an herbal tea, steep 1 tbsp. of antibacterial or antiviral herbs in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes.  For children, use 1 tsp. herbs in the same amount of water.
  2. Infusion: Herbal infusions are simply antibacterial or antiviral herbs prepared in water.  They differ from teas in that they use larger quantities of herbs, making a more concentrated preparation.  They are steeped in water for several hours in a tightly sealed jar.  Using a quart-sized canning jar is best because they can hold up well to boiling water.  Once prepared, you can drink them iced or heated, add them to baths for soaking wounds or sore muscles, or use to make compresses or poultices.  Put a handful of dried herbs in your canning jar.  Fill the jar to the fill line with boiling water.  Secure the lid tightly and let it steep until the water has completely cooled.  Strain out the antibacterial or antiviral herbs and enjoy.
  3. Infused Oil: Creating your own infused oil is easy! You can do it with just a few minutes of prep time (the rest is done in the oven). You will need: 1) Oven proof dish, 2) Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, 3) 1 cup Jojoba or Coconut oil, 4) 1/2 cup of antibacterial or antiviral herbs (one herb or a combination), 5) Clean, dry jar(s) to store your oil in and 6) Labels. Now your ready to begin!  Heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then turn it off.  To your oven-proof dish, add the oil and herbs and then stir them together (if the coconut oil is solid, let it melt first in the oven and then add the herbs and stir). Put the dish in the oven.  After 3 hours, take out the herbs and strain the oil into your clean jar(s). Label and store in a cool, dark place.

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