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12 Antiviral Foods and Herbs to Boost Your Immunity

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Inspired by natural remedies and a passion for healthy living. Food is medicine.

Natural antiviral foods and herbs contain components that can help you fight infections. The use of medications does not treat viral infections, but natural remedies can help with prevention.

Antiviral medicines decrease symptomatic severity by inhibiting the growth of viruses, but they do not kill them.

Therefore, the best defense against viral infections is a healthy immune system. Natural foods boost your immunity and speed up the process of healing if a viral infection occurs.

Healthy Food

Healthy Food

The compounds in the following natural foods and herbs reduce the ability of a virus to replicate, by keeping it from binding to the cells. Hence, consuming these plants is a safe alternative to medications in preventing virus infection.

Some herbs might be harmful because of individual factors so, always verify with your doctor before trying antiviral home remedies.

If you are on medication, pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before trying any natural antivirals.

Find out more about foods with antiviral properties discussed in this article. You can enjoy the benefits of antiviral foods and herbs in drinks, ingredients, or as natural supplements.

If you are on medication, pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before trying any natural antivirals.

1. Garlic

Garlic has antiviral compounds like allicin and diallyl trisulfide. A review by the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine noted that garlic extract exhibits antiviral activity against viruses such as influenza, rhinovirus, viral pneumonia, and HIV. Studies show that if you include garlic in your daily diet you'll have significantly fewer colds than those who don't. And if you catch a cold, you'll heal quickly. Garlic may interact with antiviral medications. Thus, always check with your doctor before making it part of your regular diet.

2. Oregano

Oregano is in the mint family and is known for its splendid medicinal value. One of its compounds, carvacrol, has strong antiviral properties. Carvacrol breaks down viruses, reducing their ability to infect your body. Oregano oil and isolated carvacrol lessen the activity of murine norovirus (MNV). You can use oregano oil supplements that have a standardized concentration of carvacrol. Use fresh oregano as an ingredient in vegetable salads.

Oregano oil with Carvacrol

You can enjoy the benefits of antiviral foods and herbs in drinks, ingredients in food, or as natural supplements.

3. Elderberries

Berries and flowers of the elderberry plant have immune-boosting and antiviral properties. Elderberries have an inhibitory effect against viruses like influenza at the early stages, and also after infection. Elderberry supplements reduce upper respiratory symptoms caused by viruses. However, elderberry may interact with some medications, so speak to your doctor before using it.

4. Ginger

For a long time, ginger has been used to treat colds and flu. The antiviral properties of ginger are connected to its phenolic compounds, namely, gingerols, and shogaols. Fresh ginger blocks viruses from attaching and internalizing onto body cells by releasing its antiviral compounds. Ginger blocks the virus' ability to attach to cells and stimulating the release of compounds that help fight viral infections. Studies have shown that ginger extract is effective in reducing the symptoms of viruses that affect the respiratory system like hepatitis C viruses and human respiratory syncytial virus(HRSV.)

5. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. They include oranges, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Vitamin C controls the immune health, iron absorption, the development of collagen, and repair of tissues. It strengthens immunity through supporting cellular functions. Compounds in citrus fruits enable the body to counteract oxidative stress when there is an imbalance of healthy antioxidants and harmful chemicals.


6. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables are antiviral superfoods due to their high content of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron. The nutrients in leafy greens boost immunity and provide the body with necessary antiviral components. You can eat them raw or lightly cooked to maintain a high nutritional composition. Eat more leafy green vegetables daily such as kales, spinach and brocolli to boost your immunity.

Here are types of leafy greens to include in your daily diet.

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7. Turmeric

The main medicinal compound in turmeric is curcumin. It has been integrated into antiviral medicines because it alters the ability of the virus to infect the cells. Still, you can get the optimum benefits of turmeric by using the fresh, natural root. In a study of Zika and Chikungunya viruses, it was found that the viruses lost infectivity when subjected to curcumin or its derivatives. If you are on any blood-thinning medications or anticoagulants, turmeric can slow blood clotting. Hence, seek a physician's advice if you are under medication.

8. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. Its compounds have strong antiviral properties. In one study, cinnamaldehyde, one of the cinnamon's major compounds, inhibited the growth of the influenza virus. Add cinnamon as an ingredient in the food you eat daily like, tea, yogurt, soups, baked goodies, and savory foods.

9. Rosemary

Rosemary has several antiviral compounds, including oleanolic acid that inhibits herpes, HIV, hepatitis A, and influenza virus. The main active components in the rosemary herb are carnosol and carnosic acid. To reap the benefits of rosemary, add the herb as an ingredient in your food or tea.

fresh rosemary

fresh rosemary

10. Onions

Red onions are rich in anthocyanin, a powerful plant pigment that may protect you against viral infections. Another antiviral component in onions is quercetin. Quercetin prevents the enterovirus and flu virus attachment to cells. Onions are loaded with antiviral compounds that inhibit viral infection.

11. Coconut and Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), compounds that have antiviral properties. Dietary supplementation of coconut oil or consumption of unrefined coconut can inactivate viruses inside the body.

12. Peppermint

Peppermint is an aromatic herb with a rich flavor, aroma, and antiviral qualities. Add peppermint leaves, water, or oil to teas to prevent viral infections. Peppermint extracts are usually added to tinctures for antiviral treatments. In a study published by Phytomedicine, researchers found that peppermint oil reduces the activity of the herpes simplex virus.

Bottom line

Many antiviral herbs have been studied primarily in lab settings. Therefore, more research is needed before making conclusive statements about the effects of natural antivirals. If you experience symptoms of coronavirus or any other viral infection, see your doctor for medical advice before starting natural antiviral remedies at home.


Bayan, L., Koulivand, P. H., & Gorji, A. (2014). Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 4(1), 1–14.

Corzo-Martínez, M., Corzo, N., & Villamiel, M. (2007). Biological properties of onions and garlic. Trends in food science & technology, 18(12), 609-625.

Gilling, D. H., Kitajima, M., Torrey, J. R., & Bright, K. R. (2014). Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus. Journal of applied microbiology, 116(5), 1149-1163.

Gruenwald, J., Freder, J., & Armbruester, N. (2010). Cinnamon and health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 50(9), 822-834.

Loolaie, M., Moasefi, N., Rasouli, H., & Adibi, H. (2017). Peppermint and its functionality: A review. Arch. Clin. Microbiol, 8(4), 54.

Schuhmacher A, Reichling J, Schnitzler P. Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(6-7):504-10. doi: 10.1078/094471103322331467. PMID: 13678235.

Mounce, B. C., Cesaro, T., Carrau, L., Vallet, T., & Vignuzzi, M. (2017). Curcumin inhibits Zika and chikungunya virus infection by inhibiting cell binding. Antiviral research, 142, 148-157.

Verma, R. K., Kumari, P., Maurya, R. K., Kumar, V., Verma, R. B., & Singh, R. K. (2018). Medicinal properties of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.): A review. IJCS, 6(4), 1354-1357.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Centfie

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