Herbal alternative to Tamiflu?

This is one that has been making the rounds lately. I haven't tried it yet, and am wondering if anyone else has. @torey ?


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  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,633 admin

    I don't know of any herbalist who is using a coffee maker or an expresso machine to make herbal extracts. Not saying that it can't be done, just that I have never heard of it before.

    I'm not sure how much shikimic acid you would get by this process. I found another article that says you need 30kg of star anise to produce 1kg of tamiflu and that it is a long, involved, chemical process. That being said, when I am making a hot beverage for respiratory illnesses, I add star anise to the blend. It can't hurt and adds to the flavour. But I don't know that I am getting much shikimic acid in the mix.

    This is part of a post I made in another discussion. "The highest levels of shikimic acid are found in star anise at around 8%. To compare, pine species only have 1-2% shikimic acid on average. One species in China has been found to be higher at around 6% but the North American species are not as high. The White Pine that is being given so much press right now is only about 3%."

    There are some good points here with some of the plants mentioned but there are errors is some others.

    Pine is high in Vitamin C and other compounds that help with respiratory illnesses. There are high levels of Vitamin C in pine needles (they are highest in the winter, except for spring bud growth). So pine is an awesome beverage when you are ill. Or toss a handful into a steam to open up respiratory passages. Yew is not a Pine (completely different family, Taxaceae) and shouldn't be mentioned here as a pine (they called it Yew Pine) as it causes confusion, even though it is good to note that it is poisonous.

    Licorice is well known for its antiviral properties and is in many combinations for respiratory illnesses. Olive leaf is being included in some respiratory combos or used just on its own and has demonstrated antiviral properties. White horehound is a great one to use for respiratory illnesses. Black cumin seed is being used as an adjunct treatment as it has anti-inflammatory properties and improves lung function. Andrographis is also a highly recommended herb; lots of research on it. Cordyceps fungi is one that is being used with success for lung support. Chamomile helps with upper respiratory infections, as does hibiscus. Chrysanthemum is used in several TCM formulas for respiratory conditions, but the species they have listed is not the right one. They called it Glebionis coronaria but the species used in TCM is Chrysanthemum morifolium, so a different genus altogether. There is a species of wormwood that is being used with some measure of success in treating respiratory illnesses but it is Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua) not the Judean Wormwood (Artemisia judaica) that is mentioned in this article. I know chicory as a cholorectic and a cholagogue (similar to dandelion) but I'm not familiar with chicory's use as an antiviral. Never heard of Anastatica before but on a quick search, I can't find anything that indicates antiviral properties. Its used to treat stomach issues, menstrual cramps and is sometimes used to ease childbirth. Don't know anything about Boesenbergia rotunda. Can't find any research on chickpeas or celery being used as antivirals.

    One other thing is that Tamiflu (while it can reduce mortality with influenza) has not been shown to be particularly helpful with cases of COVID-19. The herbs that are used to make Tamiflu might be helpful with COVID-19 for other reasons than the shikimic acid content.

    The author isn't listed for this article. Makes me question it a bit when no one wants to claim authorship.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    I always learn so much from your posts, @torey ! Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge with us! And @judsoncarroll4 thank you for asking the question -- super interesting.