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The Best Supplements for Viral Illnesses

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
The Best Supplements for Viral Illnesses
Viral illnesses can affect your quality of life.

Certain dietary supplements may be especially helpful for treating viral illness. According to, viruses are smaller than bacteria and require hosts, such as humans, to multiply. After a virus enters your body, it may invade your cells and assume control over your cells' machinery to produce more viruses. Before taking supplements to help treat your viral infections, talk with your doctor about possible side effects, proper dosage and potential drug interactions.

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Echinacea, also known as Echinacea angustifolia, is an herbal supplement that may effectively treat viral illness. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, echinacea is used to stimulate the immune system and help treat numerous health problems, such as colds, flu and other infections. Echinacea, a member of the Aster family, is an herbaceous flowering plant, has a sweet, pungent and tongue-numbing taste and possesses cooling, drying and stimulating tendencies. Several parts of the plant, especially the roots, seeds and flowers, are used for medicinal purposes. Dr. William A. Mitchell Jr., a naturopathic physician and author of the book "Plant Medicine in Practice," states that echinacea inhibits an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which can help decrease the spread of viruses in your body. Echinacea is an antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune system modulator.


Dr. Sharol Tilgner, a naturopathic physician and author of the book "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth," states that osha, also known as Ligusticum porteri, supports your immune system and is especially helpful for treating debilitating viral respiratory disease associated with significant amounts of mucus and congestion in your tissues. Osha, a member of the Parsley family, is an antiviral, diaphoretic and diuretic that has immune-stimulating properties. Osha, which is a perennial herb that grows in the Rocky Mountains and other parts of southwestern North America, has an aromatic smell and possesses drying and warming tendencies. Practitioners of botanical medicine use the root of the plant to help treat numerous health problems, including viral illness. In addition to being used for chronic viral illnesses, osha may also be used to help treat toothaches, notes Tilgner.


Licorice is an herbaceous perennial plant native to certain parts of Europe and Asia. Licorice, also known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, has a sweet, nutritious taste, possesses moistening tendencies and thrives in deep, fertile soil with full sun exposure. The long, cylindrical roots and rhizomes, or underground stems, of the plant are used medicinally. Tilgner states that licorice is an antiviral, antibacterial, adrenal system modulator, expectorant, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that inhibits the growth of viruses, helps improve immune deficient states, and helps treat chronic fatigue and viral hepatitis. According to Dr. Michael T. Murray, a naturopathic physician and author of the book "The Healing Power of Herbs," licorice also inactivates herpes simplex virus 1 irreversibly and reduces the healing time and pain associated with cold sores and genital herpes. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid supplements containing licorice.

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