Herbs for Viral Respiratory Infections

Acute respiratory infections are the most common illness in the world, across age and gender. It is also notably seasonal, peaking in fall and spring. Past studies also confirm that children and females are more susceptible of developing respiratory infections from viral sources, such as rhinovirus and influenza.

Herbs have been used since ancient times to treat various disorders, and viral respiratory infections are no exception. Studies on antiviral herbs identify that they may work through multiple pathways simultaneously, in particular anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting actions.

  1. Immune Booster: Elderberries have long been known for its immune-boosting quality, and confirmed by several clinical studies over the years.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory: Recent study on Grindelia and Elecampane suggests their potent anti-inflammatory actions, which is actually equivalent to the corticosteroid budesonide.

Overall, these studies explain the mechanisms of certain herbs traditionally used for viral respiratory infections, and how they remain relevant even today.


  1. Gierlikowska, B., et. al., 2020. Inula helenium and Grindelia squarrosa as a source of compounds with anti-inflammatory activity in human neutrophils and cultured human respiratory epithelium. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 249, p.112311.
  2. Monto, A.S., 2002. Epidemiology of viral respiratory infections. The American journal of medicine112(6), pp.4-12.
  3. Schön, C., Mödinger, Y., Krüger, F., Doebis, C., Pischel, I. and Bonnländer, B., 2021. A new high-quality elderberry plant extract exerts antiviral and immunomodulatory effects in vitro and ex vivo. Food and Agricultural Immunology32(1), pp.650-662.
  4. Yarnell, E., 2018. Herbs for viral respiratory infections. Alternative and Complementary Therapies24(1), pp.35-43.

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