There are some powerful things we can do for our immune systems all the time, but of course pressingly now that we find ourselves in the Covid-19 storm. I like to pretend I’m in the eye of the storm, where it’s all calm and I can relax because a relaxed state – your parasympathetic nervous system lit up – means your immune system has the energy it needs to function, and it means I can make rational decisions and THINK when I need to. Two very important things right now. Other things are going into nature, obviously good hand washing and social distancing, and then, of course, there’s what we can do from our kitchens. We can nourish ourselves with high-quality food and boost our meals with nature’s antiviral gifts. To that end, we’ve crafted a list to help you identify everyday foods, herbs and spices with antiviral properties and ideas for incorporating them into our meals.
A lot of people have asked about supplementation and Dr Ben Lynch, Dr David Perlmutter and Dr Elisa Song have been providing wonderful resources and online lectures over the past month on Facebook and Instagram if you want to look them up. After having listened to them all, I’m taking the following. From Seeking Health I’ve got the Vitamin A drops, D drops, Liposomal Glutathione and Liposomal Curcumin. From your local health shop (or Iherb for international low tox peeps) we’re taking an Echinacea/Andrographis/Zinc/C blend, and a herbal antiviral blend mixed by my naturopath. Also Chaga and a quality liver formula like the Life Extension one and Moringa Powder which has lots of bioavailable nutrients in it and 7 x the vitamin C of an orange per 100g! Just mix into a glass or into a smoothie.
This post is a part of a set of resources we’ve built to address the fact that a lot of us have upped our food and supplement stocks to the 2-week window, either because your town, city or country is in lockdown or to ensure that if we go into lockdown, we’re good to go. But the thing is, this is such a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of some of those basic low tox food principles – eat simple whole foods, plan well to avoid waste, make freezer meals for those crazy full days where you can avoid caving into vegetable-oil-drowned takeaways, knowing a nourishing meal is a quick reheat away. We have a real opportunity here to keep calm and get nourishing and with that comes the support and protection of our magnificent immune systems during a time when we need them most. Panic buying packet foods might seem the right thing to do because everyone’s doing it, but make a tea, grab a pen, write a list and plan your nourishment.
So there’s just a few suggestions above, but here are some great antivirals you can source from your own pantry or herb garden…
Oregano is known for its impressive medicinal qualities. Its plant compounds, which include carvacrol, offer antiviral properties. Studies have shown that oregano oil and isolated carvacrol reduce viral activity. Oregano oil and carvacrol have also been shown to exhibit antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type-1; rotavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus. Add oregano to slow-cooked stews and soups as an antiviral flavour booster.
Sage has strong antiviral properties and is and has traditionally been used to treat viral infections. The antiviral properties of sage are mostly attributed to compounds called safficinolide and sage one, which are found in the leaves and stem of the plant. Use sage in the bases of soup or pair it with chicken like this recipe here for Roast Chicken Seasoned Fresh Herbs.
Studies have found that sweet basil extracts exhibited potent effects against herpes viruses, hepatitis B, and enterovirus. Holy basil, also known as tulsi, has been shown to increase immunity, which may help fight viral infections.
Fennel extract has been shown to demonstrate strong antiviral effects against herpes viruses and parainfluenza.The main component of fennel essential oil, trans-anethole, has also demonstrated powerful antiviral effects.Fennel has traditionally been used in herbal medicine to boost your immune system and decrease inflammation, which may also help combat viral infections. Try my Fresh Fennel Salad for a delicious take on this herb.
Garlic is a popular natural remedy for immune insufficiency, viral infection and bacterial exposure. Test-tube studies have found that garlic may have antiviral activity against influenza A and B, HIV, viral pneumonia, and rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. While research is lacking, garlic has been used for centuries to support immunity and fight off disease and illness.
Peppermint is rich in menthol and rosmarinic acid, which have antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity. It’s commonly added to teas, extracts, and tinctures meant to naturally treat viral infections. To get your peppermint fix, simply drink a well-steeped herbal tea with organic peppermint leaves.
Rosemary is rich in oleanolic acid making it a fabulous therapeutic herb to add to recipes! Oleanolic acid has displayed antiviral activity against herpes viruses, HIV, influenza, and hepatitis in animals. Add rosemary to any baked veggies, as I did here with My Baked Rosemary Potatoes.
Licorice has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and other natural practices for centuries.Glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin are just some of the active substances in licorice that have powerful antiviral properties. If you have licorice root powder in your cupboard you can add it to a hot chocolate for a sweet, aniseed-like flavour. Delish!
Ginger root’s antiviral properties specifically against respiratory conditions have been proven in the research. This comes in addition to ginger’s centuries-long reputation for treating a number of medical conditions. Dose up on ginger in my Lemon Ginger Slice or my Sliced Fig and Ginger Bread.
Hope this post has helped you find a few ideas, and we’ve also crafted other posts you might find useful on what fresh produce lasts the longest un-frozen, cheap+simple meals you can make and eat or freeze and things you can blitz, prep and cook to freeze that you might not have thought of. Enjoy the resources.
So there we go, nine beautiful, easy-to-source natural antivirals that you can throw into everyday meals for immune support. How would you use them? Share with me below!
Medical Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or manage any health symptoms. Always seek professional advice from a qualified practitioner before self-administering any supplements. Take extra precautions if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Low Tox. Happy Body. Happy you.