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Herbs commonly used to fight viral diseases (antiviral herbs)


Hearing the word “virus” nowadays generates tremendous amount of interest and whenever this happens people pay a lot of attention. This is not the first time this is happening in contemporary times. A few years ago, it was Ebola virus and in between there have been cases of HIV, SARS, Spanish Flu, influenza and different kinds of flu and colds. These are all caused by viruses as we have those that cause hepatitis, polio, bronchitis, herpes simplex etc. None of these other viruses have commanded such attention as COVID19. We don’t intend to go into all the details of this particular virus and the havoc it is causing all over the world. As always my focus is healthy living and I am just going to concentrate on that with viruses as our case study, as it were. Let me counsel and warn here that this is not another presentation on treatment of coronavirus. If you are sick having contracted coronavirus, please see the experts, doctors manning special isolation centers that governments all over the world have set up for the management of coronavirus. The rest of us, let’s stay safe; let’s stay healthy.
To discuss this subject, I wish to give a brief summary of the life cycle of the virus. Viruses have been in existence for thousands of years and of course so have herbs.

The virus passes through six stages in its life cycle inside the body of its host. The first stage is known as ATTACHMENT. There are certain protein spikes on the outer covering of the virus, the capsid. With these spikes, the virus, having recognized certain specific receptors on the host cell membrane attaches itself to these. Through this point the virus passes into the host cell by the process called PENETRATION. Inside the cell, the virus will take off its protein covering so as to expose the DNA (RNA) that is carrying the genome of the virus. This stage of the viral life cycle is known as UNCOATING. The thrust of the life cycle of the virus is to penetrate into a host cell and to replicate (Stage iv REPLICATION) itself many times over with the resources of the host cell. Whilst inside the host cell, the viral DNA (RNA) incorporates itself into the genetic material of the cell and induces it to replicate the viral genome.

The life cycle of the virus is by no means as simple as I have presented it here; it is a lot more complicated than this. The replication process continues with the production of more DNA that is transcribed to mRNA (messenger RNA). The mRNA functions by directing the synthesis of proteins. These proteins are viral enzymes and capsid proteins, which will be assembled with the DNA to form new virions (a single individual particle of a virus). This is the ASSEMBLY stage. The final stage is the RELEASE stage.

At this stage the new virions formed will have to be released from the host cell. In some cases this release will be made after the host cell has died or by a process called budding. While the infected host cell remains alive, the new virions bud through the cell membrane and released from the confines of the host cell to begin their own life cycle where more virions are grown and released.

Diseases and symptoms of viral infections are caused the immune responses elicited by the infections themselves. Here now is a good reason why the immune system should be well supported and boosted. Nevertheless, diseases arising from viral infections depend on certain factors like the age of the individual (young or old), the health status of the individual. A pre-existing disease such as a chronic degenerative disease will act as a risk factor. The type of virus causing the disease, the areas of the body or organ infected are also very important.

Symptoms of viral diseases
Common flu-like symptoms include headache, aches, pains, fever, cough sore throat and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are gastrointestinal symptoms that may accompany viral infections. Other symptoms are general malaise, sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, swollen lymph nodes, swollen tonsils and tonsillitis with unexplained loss of weight.

More serious symptoms that can be encountered in viral diseases are chest pain, deep chested cough which maybe productive, secreting yellowish brown, mucous phlegm. There could be fever, which can be particularly high with shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. Others are more pronounced lymph nodes in the neck with neck stiffness.

Common herbs that have been used and proven effective in the treatment of viral diseases are Ginger, Echinacea, Elderberry (Sambucus), Garlic, Licorice, Green tea, Olive leaf, St John’s Wort, Oregano, Ginseng, Dandelion, Rosemary, Fennel, Basil and Sage. We shall be taking a closer look at each of these in the next week’s edition of the Guardian Newspaper.

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