Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Andre Budihardjo, MM and Physician Brandon Yew on July 14, 2022

Best Herbs To Help You Overcome COVID Symptoms

Herbs don't just help with COVID symptoms. They may also reduce the harsh effects of other medications, making them more tolerable on the body. Learn the best ones to take here.

TCM herbs min scaled

COVID symptoms can be difficult to treat. The virus seems to affect each person differently. Also, not everyone responds well to over-the-counter medications.

If you’re looking for natural ways to help get you through a COVID diagnosis, consider adding herbal medicine to your wellness routine.

This article discusses the top 8 best herbs to help manage the symptoms of COVID and how they work.

How Do Herbs Help With COVID Symptoms?

Herbs can be used to help reduce many COVID symptoms, including cough, sore throat, and fatigue.

Along with conventional treatment and vaccination, studies show that there are several Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs that may help manage the symptoms of COVID. 

Pathology in TCM focuses on the specific syndromes of illness caused by pathogens. These can be categorized into Wind, Cold-Fire, Dampness, Phlegm, Qi (vital life force) Stagnation, Blood Clot, and Fluid Retention.

According to Real Health Medical TCM Physician Brandon Yew, “Once the specific pathogenic characteristics and traits are accurately identified, a TCM practitioner will prescribe herbs that target them and strengthen immunity. As the saying goes in TCM, if the immune system is robust and sufficient, pathogens will not be able to enter and cause disease.”

It reflects what has been seen in the past two years: not everyone exposed to the virus gets infected. Also, not all infected people experience the same set of symptoms and the level of sickness. Some are even asymptomatic.

Numerous studies are showing that many TCM herbal formulas help manage COVID symptoms. A recent 2021 study published in Frontiers of Pharmacology analyzed 58 different clinical trials with 2,773 COVID patients. It concluded that combining TCM herbs and Western medicine led to better outcomes than clinical treatment alone.

This analytical study also revealed that using TCM herbs in conjunction with conventional Western medicine did not increase the risk of adverse reactions. We look at eight herbs that show efficacy in treating the different symptoms associated with a COVID infection

Best Herbs To Help Manage COVID Symptoms

TCM herbal formulas were created and developed with the concept of treating specific syndromes and imbalances that may have allowed the infection to take root in the first place. Many are efficacious in managing the symptoms of COVID.

Honeysuckle 

Honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua) is a principal herb in a well-known formula for colds and flu called Yin Qiao San. It disperses external Wind-Heat and neutralizes toxins to help with the early stages of febrile infections.

This helps ease symptoms like fever, chills, sore throat, and a headache. The flowering herb has a sweet, astringent taste and belongs to the category of ‘cold’ TCM herbs.

Forsythia 

Forsythia fruit (Lian Qiao) is another well-known herb. It is available in many TCM herbal formulas, such as Lian Hua Qing Wen, which has assisted with conventional COVID treatment.

It’s a bitter and cooling herb that clears Heat, especially in the Lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. It aids in the relief of high fever, mild chills, and a sore throat.

Licorice root 

Licorice root (Gan Cao) is a sweet TCM herb with a neutral nature when raw and warm natured when dry-fried. It can tonify Spleen Qi and promote Qi circulation, helping with shortness of breath, weak pulse, and heart palpitations. 

Licorice is also hydrating for the Lungs and can help reduce Phlegm and coughing. It’s helpful for reducing painful muscle spasms in the abdomen and lower limbs. Lastly, it helps modulate the harsh properties of other herbs, making them easier for the patient’s body to accept.

Chrysanthemum  

You can use Chrysanthemum to clear Heat toxins in the lungs and reduce coughing.

Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua) is a bright yellow flower that is one of the key ingredients in the Sang Ju Yin formulation. The formulation clears the Heat Toxins within the Lungs to relieve coughing. 

It’s a bittersweet and cooling herb that is primarily effective for dispersing Wind and clearing Heat Toxins. Its usage has therapeutic properties on the Liver as well.

Bupleurum root 

Bupleurum root (Chai Hu) is available in many common cold and flu TCM formulations. These include Xiao Chai Hu TangChai Ge Jie Ji Tang, and Qing Fei Pai Du Tang

It is an acrid herb of cool nature. This root herb’s therapeutic tropism is towards the Liver, Gallbladder, Pericardium, and triple warmer (San Jiao) meridians. Thus, it is effective in relieving fever and chills, vomiting, and tightness in the chest.

Tingli seed 

Tingli or Lepidium seed (Ting Li Zi) is a bitter spicy herb with of a cold nature. It is well-known in TCM to drain excess fluids from the Lungs and break down Phlegm. Thus, it effectively calms wheezing coughs.

Mulberry root bark  

Mulberry root bark (Sang Bai Pi), another ‘cold-natured’ TCM herb, has a similar yet less potent effect to Tingli seeds.

It also drains Heat from the Lungs to relieve Heat-causing coughs and breathlessness. Being a diuretic, it also promotes urination to reduce edema. 

Astragalus root 

Astragalus root (Huang Qi) has shown to not only help with symptoms of COVID but also act as a great immunity-building herb.

In TCM terminology, it’s a sweet herb of a slightly warm nature. Its main therapeutic effect lies in tonifying Qi of both the Spleen and Lungs.

This herb covers a lot of ground in terms of helping to improve symptoms such as Cold-intolerance, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, and many other respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments.

TCM Can Help Reduce COVID Symptoms

China uses the above-mentioned TCM herbs extensively as part of herbal formulas to manage the symptoms of COVID. You can also sip on herbal ginseng tea to stay hydrated and reduce nausea associated with COVID symptoms. Cordyceps is commonly used to support respiratory health and boost the immune system.

As with all medicine, herbal or otherwise, these herbs will not necessarily work the same way for all COVID cases. We advise against purchasing these herbs to self-medicate, especially for those who are unvaccinated, under the age of 12, elderly, or immunocompromised while suffering from multiple chronic conditions.

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