27 Herbs that Fight Herpes Infections

licorice herpes simplex

Licorice root herb helps fight herpes simplex viruses.

A number of herbs have been shown to inhibit Herpes Simplex infections. Let’s look at significant research on some of these.

Herbal medicine for herpes

In a 2018 study from Pakistan’s Government College University, researchers tested a multitude of plants for their antiviral effects. The researchers found that plants belonging to 36 variety families were antiviral against laboratory models of several viruses, including herpes simplex.

The researchers further isolated 54 different plants, 27 of those specific to particular plant families. The researchers concluded:

“On the basis of the work of several independent research groups, the therapeutic potential of medicinal plants against listed common viral diseases in the region has been proclaimed. In this context, the herbal formulations as alternative medicine may contribute to the eradication of complicated viral infection significantly.”

A 2016 study from Iran’s Shahrekord University of Medical Science conducted a review of research on Iran herbal medicines for herpes. The researchers found 23 medicinal plants that were studied against herpes simplex. The researchers found the following herbs were “highly effective” against herpes infections in the laboratory:

  • Melissa officinalis
  • Quercus persica
  • Securigeras ecuridaca

The search for the best antiviral herbs is not a new one.

In 1990, the Jiangxi Medical College of China conducted a large test of 472 herbs that were known for their antiviral effects. They screened each herb with herpes patients. Included in this was 78 cases of herpetic keratitis – infections in the eyes.

The researchers found many of these herbs sped up healing for the herpes patients. The top ten herbs that were significantly antiviral against herpes simplex:

  • Aristolochia debilis
  • Artemisia anomala
  • Lindera strychnifolia
  • Patrinia villosa
  • Pinus massoniana
  • Prunella vulgaris
  • Pyrrosia lingua
  • Rhus chinensis
  • Sargussum fusiforme
  • Taraxacum mongolicum

In the example of the 78 cases of herpes in the eyes, the researchers found that eye drops containing a combination of Pyrrosia lingua and Prunella vulgaris completely cured 38 of the patients, while 37 showed marked improvement. Only three patients of the group showed no improvement after the eye drops were employed.

Testing a gel formula

This international investigation of antiviral herbs for herpes continues today.

In a 2018 study from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, researchers tested a gel combination for the treatment of herpes simplex – more specifically Herpes libialis. After looking at the available evidence on anti-herpetic herbs, the researchers utilized five herbs in their combination:

  • Sumac extract
  • Licorice extract
  • Rosemary extract
  • Melissa extract

As we’ll discuss further, this is because these herbs have been shown in several studies to fight herpes infections. They have been shown to speed the healing of the sores and inhibit the viral outbreak.

Their study found that rosemary and licorice herbs offered the primary benefits of helping repair and speed up the healing of the sores.

Clinical research on antiviral herbs

Gynura treats herpes

Gynura herb treats herpes simplex.

A number of herbs have been clinically studied for herpes. This includes the Gynura herb, which has been studied with patients with HSV-1 and HSV-2.

Researchers tested 59 patients with herpes and found after four days of treatment a 43% faster healing rate in those who used the Gynura.

In 2007, the Kansai Medical University Kohri Hospita in Osaka Japan tested 28 patients with genital herpes. They had been treated in the clinic for at least a year. They had recurrent outbreaks and the doctors prescribed conventional treatment with no improvement. The patients were then tested with an herbal formula. They gave them a herbal formula containing:

  • Wisteria floribunda
  • Trapa natans
  • Terminalia chebulae
  • Coicis lachryma-jobi
  • Ganoderma lucidum
  • Elfuinga applanata

The researchers found the patients reported faster healing times and greater relief. Their outbreak healing times were reduced from an average of 10.9 days to an average of 7.8 days with the herbal medicine.

The Toyodo Hijikata Clinic in Osaka Japan tested six herbs with recurrent herpes labialis on patients in 1998. They also found the herbal formula caused a faster crusting over and complete recovery during outbreaks. Their symptoms disappeared faster than in prior outbreaks, as reported in other clinical studies.

A master list of herbs that inhibit HSV

These and other studies have found herbs to help fight herpes infections. We have reported separately on many of these with additional research evidence:


Akram M, Tahir IM, Shah SMA, Mahmood Z, Altaf A, Ahmad K, Munir N, Daniyal M, Nasir S, Mehboob H. Antiviral potential of medicinal plants against HIV, HSV, influenza, hepatitis, and coxsackievirus: A systematic review. Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):811-822. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6024.

Aslani A, Zolfaghari B, Fereidani Y. Design, formulation, and evaluation of a herbal gel contains melissa, sumac, licorice, rosemary, and geranium for treatment of recurrent labial herpes infections. Dent Res J (Isfahan). 2018 May-Jun;15(3):191-200. doi: 10.4103/1735-3327.231865.

Moradi MT, Rafieian-Kopaei M, Karimi A. A review study on the effect of Iranian herbal medicines against in vitro replication of herpes simplex virus. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2016 Sep-Oct;6(5):506-515.

Wang L, Yang R, Yuan B, Liu Y, Liu C. The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice, a widely-used Chinese herb. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2015 Jul;5(4):310-5. doi: 10.1016/j.apsb.2015.05.005.

Pilau MR, Alves SH, Weiblen R, Arenhart S, Cueto AP, Lovato LT. Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses. Braz J Microbiol. 2011 Oct;42(4):1616-24. doi: 10.1590/S1517-838220110004000049.

Li Y, Ooi LS, Wang H, But PP, Ooi VE. Antiviral activities of medicinal herbs traditionally used in southern mainland China. Phytother Res. 2004 Sep;18(9):718-22.

Ruffa MJ, Wagner ML, Suriano M, Vicente C, Nadinic J, Pampuro S, Salomón H, Campos RH, Cavallaro L. Inhibitory effect of medicinal herbs against RNA and DNA viruses. Antivir Chem Chemother. 2004 May;15(3):153-9.

Kuo YC, Lin LC, Tsai WJ, Chou CJ, Kung SH, Ho YH. Samarangenin B from Limonium sinense suppresses herpes simplex virus type 1 replication in Vero cells by regulation of viral macromolecular synthesis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2002 Sep;46(9):2854-64.

Zheng M. Experimental study of 472 herbs with antiviral action against the herpes simplex virus. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1990 Jan;10(1):39-41, 6.

Chang RS, Yeung HW. Inhibition of growth of human immunodeficiency virus in vitro by crude extracts of Chinese medicinal herbs. Antiviral Res. 1988 Apr;9(3):163-75.

Hijikata Y, Tsukamoto Y. Effect of herbal therapy on herpes labialis and herpes genitalis. Biotherapy. 1998;11(4):235-40.

Cheng HY, Lin LT, Huang HH, Yang CM, Lin CC. Yin Chen Hao Tang, a Chinese prescription, inhibits both herpes simplex virus type-1 and type-2 infections in vitro. Antiviral Res. 2008 Jan;77(1):14-9.

Hijikata Y, Yamada S, Yasuhara A. Herbal mixtures containing the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum improve recovery time in patients with herpes genitalis and labialis. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Nov;13(9):985-7.


  • Case Adams, Naturopath

    California Naturopath, Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences, Doctorate in Integrative Health Sciences, Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. Diplomas in Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Colon Hydrotherapy, certificates in Pain Management and Case Management/Contact Tracing. Has authored more than 30 books and hundreds of periodical articles on natural medicine. Recreational activities include surfing, sailing, running, biking, swimming, SUPing, hiking. Contact: case(at)caseadams(dot)com.

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