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Antiviral Meds

Antiviral Meds: Can You Substitute Them with Health Supplements?

What is a viral infection?

Viral infections are diseases caused by tiny organisms known as microbes (viruses). All viruses are parasitic by their nature, meaning they cannot survive and thrive outside a living host cell. Viruses rely upon a living cell for replication since they themselves lack the essential machinery required for this.

How does a virus work?

When a virus enters a human body, it attaches to and penetrates a host cell. Depending on the type of the virus, these cells can be different; for example, the HIV infection targets T-cells of the person’s immune system, while common influenza will aim for the airways and digestive tract. Once the virus has sneaked into the cell, it interferes with or takes over the cellular replication mechanisms and makes the host cell produce its infection-bearing copies galore.

What do we know about viruses?

Scientists say there are about ten nonillion viruses on this planet, and only 219 of them can pose a real threat to the health and life of a person. The yellow fever virus was the first to be discovered in 1901, ever since new types have been detected each year, including the most recently identified COVID-19, whose outbreak started the worldwide pandemic. This is not the first virus to have jumped species, but the scale of its impact shows that the problem is getting more dangerous.

The ten most violent killer infections in the history of humankind include:

  • Ebola virus;
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • smallpox;
  • rotavirus;
  • influenza virus (Spanish flu);
  • Dengue virus;
  • SARS-CoV-1,-2;
  • MERS-CoV;
  • hantavirus;
  • rabies.

What are antiviral meds?

Antiviral medications are a class of drugs specifically intended for the treatment of different types of viruses. They work by suppressing the ability of the virus to reproduce. At present, the three main groups of viruses that antiviral drugs are used to treat are influenza, herpes, and hepatitis. Antivirals come in the form of pills, liquid solutions, injectable solutions, and powders for inhalation. In most countries, these drugs are not sold over the counter and can only be purchased with a valid prescription from a doctor.

That said, you do not have to drive to your local pharmacy to pick up your meds or make an in-person appointment with your physician to have a prescription written out. Today, with technology being so advanced and accessible, you can shop for antiviral drugs without leaving the comforts of your home. Among retailers of inexpensive antivirals, online pharmacy holds a special place as a drugstore with consistency in generating positive customer feedback. Your insurance provider will be happy to learn that you shift to generics and offer you lower deductibles with the kind of the drug range on the pharmacy’s formulary. If you do not have an insurance plan, you still can refill your prescriptions economically on their website – this is one of the strongest players in the field of low-cost healthcare solutions.

Can viruses be treated with health supplements instead of antiviral drugs?

People who do not respond well to the treatment with medicinal drugs or are concerned about the possible downsides of using antivirals often wonder if various health supplements are a better and safer alternative. These are natural products containing ingredients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and plant-based additives that are meant to enrich your diet and boost overall health.

However, in contrast with antiviral medications, herbal and dietary supplements are not intended for preventing, treating, or curing infections; neither can they help relieve the symptoms of the disease or reduce its duration. They can only help strengthen your immune system long-term and thus lower the likelihood of your catching a viral infection.

Which natural supplements can help your body stand up to a virus?

It is important to remember that natural supplements cannot prevent or cure a viral infection by themselves, so any Internet ads that say otherwise are intentionally misleading. For a supplement to produce any beneficial effect, it needs to be taken for a long time, preferably in conjunction with healthy eating, enough rest, and regular exercise.

Here are the three most essential minerals and vitamins, whose daily use could potentially have a positive impact on your health.

Vitamin С

This vitamin has potent antioxidative action and can help reduce inflammation, including the inflammatory processes occurring in the lungs of an infected person. In one study, it was found to decrease the symptoms of cold and flu by 85%. Another useful property of vitamin С is that it facilitates the absorption of iron, making our body more resistant to viruses. Then, it improves the function of leukocytes that are the first-line responders to a viral infection.  Finally, compared to other natural supplements, Vitamin C can boast its affordability.

Vitamin D

The chief function of vitamin D is to help you keep healthy levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood. Regular intake of vitamin D may also help lower the likelihood of respiratory infections, such as the influenza A virus. Alongside this, Vitamin D is believed to positively affect HIV and Tuberculosis response to treatment. Supplements containing this nutrient may be useful for people who do not get enough natural sunlight or whose diet is short of vitamin D.


A few studies show that small doses of this mineral taken daily can help fight off a rhinovirus-induced cold in a shorter time, but only in people who are deficient in it. Beyond that, it was found to reduce the duration of the cold symptoms. Zinc also activates t-lymphocytes (T-cells), which make the body respond more efficiently to an infection.

On top of this, there is a broad range of herbal supplements containing plant extracts that have a powerful antiviral action. They include oregano, basil, sage, peppermint, rosemary, echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, Sambucus, etc.

Safety warnings

Even though most health supplements are sold over the counter today, it does not mean that their use is entirely safe or that you do not need to see your doctor and have your health checked beforehand.

The use of some supplements is contraindicated in people who suffer from allergies, hepatic or renal problems, heart conditions, etc. Moreover, these supplements may interact dangerously with some of the drugs you are already taking, which is why it is so critical to get a one-on-one consultation with your physician first to make sure that such treatment will do you good.

Do not expect health supplements to provide quick relief of your symptoms, as most of these products have to be taken for a long time to produce any notable beneficial effect. If you spot any signs of a virus such as fever, headache, dehydration, extreme fatigue, or loss of appetite, seek medical attention as quickly as possible.