Plant-Based Support of Respiratory Health during Viral Outbreaks

J Agric Food Chem. 2022 Feb 23;70(7):2064-2076. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.1c06227. Epub 2022 Feb 11.


Respiratory viruses are linked to major epidemic events that have plagued humans through recorded history and possibly much earlier, ranging from common colds, influenza, and coronavirus infections to measles. However, difficulty in developing effective pharmaceutical solutions to treat infected individuals has hindered efforts to manage and minimize respiratory viral outbreaks and the associated mortality. Here we highlight a series of botanical interventions with different and often overlapping putative mechanisms of action to support the respiratory system, for which the bioactive pharmacophore was suggested and the initial structure-activity relationships have been explored (Bupleurum spp., Glycyrrhiza spp., Andrographis spp.), have been proposed with uncertainty (Echinacea spp., Zingiber spp., Verbascum spp., Marrubium spp.), or remained to be elucidated (Sambucus spp., Urtica spp.). Investigating these metabolites and their botanical sources holds potential to uncover new mediators of the respiratory health outcomes as well as molecular targets for future break-through therapeutic interventions targeting respiratory viral outbreaks.

Keywords: COVID-19; anti-inflammatory; antiviral; coneflower; elderberry; expectorant; ginger; horehound; licorice; mullein; nettle.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Respiratory System*
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Plant Extracts