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Do Vegetables + Herbs Really Have An Antiviral Effect? {Episode 222}

Antiviral, Vegetable, Herbs, Natural Medicine,

Do Vegetables + Herbs Really Have An Antiviral Effect? {Episode 222}

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Herbs and vegetables have an antiviral effect? WHAAAT?! Join us in today’s discussion about how certain foods/herbs give an antiviral effect in the body! This discussion isn’t about COVID-19 specifically, but other viruses in our environment. I want to give you encouragement that while we don’t have research on COVID-19 YET, if these items can provide an anti-viral effect on other viruses, I know in my bones there are things out there we just don’t know yet!

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You are listening to Functional Nutrition Radio with me as your host, Lahana Vigliano, the owner and a board certified clinical nutritionist. On Episode 222 today, I answer the burning question that many of you are asking “do herbs and certain vegetables have antiviral properties?” Like for real real real real. I’m ecstatic about answering this question for you because this is what got me into my love of clinical nutrition ya’ll. Figuring out that plants have a healing capability is mind blowing and awesome!

Now we’re not talking COVID-19 today, I knowwww, I’m sure you are totally bummed that you haven’t got enough COVID-19 news, but the thing is that there are ZERO studies on herbs and foods with COVID-19. I’m sure there will be eventually, but I just wanted to talk moreso on the power of food being an antiviral with other viruses, but also gives me some comfort that even if we don’t know which foods are antiviral for COVID-19 – I know there is something out there that can help. Time will tell!

I’ve found that one of my favorite ways to start off a podcast is reading a review that one of our badass clients has written for us because what one person might be suffering from, you could be in that SAME boat, and never realize that there is more to life than how you feel. It reads..

Life changing! I was suffering from random, unexplainable fatigue before meeting Farrah from Nuvitru Wellness. She walked me through the food sensitivity testing, and customized a plan for me. I learnt that I was eating healthy foods that my body simply can’t handle all that well – causing my body to spend a lot of energy trying to digest; and I found that I was avoiding some foods (like dairy) thinking that was what was causing my issues.
My nutritionist, Farrah, was super patient with all my questions, concerns, and details – she broke it down in apples and oranges for me to fully understand the whats and whys. She was super supportive and helpful through it all!

Francesca A.

Awww man, it gives me all the feels! If you’re ready to take that next step with us, make your free appointment. Seriously. If this time has told me anything, it’s a big reminder of us doing the best we can with what we got and doing our best to provide for our body. That’s all we can do, friends!

Okay, back to the topic…

Antiviral Vegetables + Herbs

Let’s start with the short answer to this question. Yes. They do. I’m definitely a big supporter of the #foodasmedicine approach. And instead of simply saying, “yes they do have antiviral properties”. Let’s dive into the literature and see what it says! Let’s start with a little spice we all know oregano!

Oregano Antiviral

Part of oregano that is studied in literature is a component called carvacrol. This component was studied against the norovirus {aka the dreaded stomach bug} and showed to interrupt the capsid that is around the virus and damage the RNA. That study was done in Applied Journal of Microbiology. Another study also showed how oregano interrupted the viral envelope in the herpes virus. Just to mention that many of these studies have used oregano oil, which is more potent, stronger than what you would get if you were using oregano to season your food.

Holy Basil, Peppermint, Sage, + Lemon BalmAntiviral

This is one of my favorite teas that I drink, along with it being in some supplements for it’s adaptogenic properties, but holy basil was studied on how it regulates the immune system and it shows the increase of T-cells, NK cells, and interleukins to help your immune system fight off viruses. This was a really great set up study being randomized, double blind, and controlled. It was also studied against the herpes virus to interrupt the viral replication.

In a study against HIV, these herbs were in an aqueous extract form and stopped HIV from replicating compared to controls and stopped the virus from entering the host cell. Another study found on lemon balm showed it being effective against the influenza virus by stopping the virus from replicating. Peppermint was studied against RSV and being packed with antioxidants that reduce free radicals damage and lowered levels of nitric oxide, TNF, interleukins, and prostaglandins.

Garlic Antiviral

There are a lot of older studies back in the 90’s that showed garlic against the common cold, but there wasn’t a lot of new research that really spoke to me. But, I find that garlic has a lot of immune system modulating effects, which is important in keeping it in homeostasis (related to the fear of cytokine storms that can happen with viruses). Garlic has been shown to promote and active certain macrophages and immune cells, but regulate that cytokine secretion, so also holding that anti-inflammatory property.


Echinacea is one of the most recommended herbs for having antiviral properties. It has been shown to be effective against various respiratory illnesses, such as rhinovirus and influenza, and viruses like Herpes. Different parts of echinacea was taken aside to study, like cichoric acid and echinacoside, and caffeic acid and this was shown to stop the replication of the virus. Different parts of echinacea, like roots or leaves, inhibit different kinds of viruses.

The foods that are higher in vitamin C are also important, as vitamin C plays a role in the initial immune response to viral infections. Sticking to wholesome fresh organic foods can help your body, in general, to provide your body with the building blocks it needs to thrive.

Lahana Vigliano, CCN
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Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).