Herbal Medicine and COVID-19: An Umbrella Review


  • Kerrie L Oakes National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia
  • Paul R Saunders Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, ON, Canada and National University of Health Sciences, Lombard, IL, United States
  • Iva Lloyd World Naturopathic Federation, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Tiffany Turner Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, New Westminster, BC, Canada
  • Janis Gruska Bastyr University, San Diego, CA, United States
  • Belinda Gibbs Independent scholar, Sydney, Australia
  • Sophie Gleitzman Independent scholar, Sydney, Australia
  • Caio Fabio Portella CABSIN: Brazilian Academic Consortium of Integrative Health
  • Jamie Friend The Friendly Naturopath clinic, Australia
  • Kim Graham Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
  • Meagan Leslie Endeavour College, Sydney, Australia




Traditional medicine, effectiveness, complementary medicine, immune health, Chinese medicine, coronavirus


Background: Most systems of traditional medicine have been using herbal medicines to prevent and treat acute respiratory conditions and various other conditions for centuries. The aim of this project is to identify and examine the systematic and narrative reviews reporting on the therapeutic use of herbal medicines as it relates to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and long COVID.

Methods: This paper is part of an umbrella review of studies related to natural health products and natural therapies for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. It is a follow-up to a live review that was conducted by the World Naturopathic Federation between May 2022 and May 2023. PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for systematic and narrative reviews that met defined quality criteria.

Results: Over half of the initial systematic reviews were excluded as they did not meet the inclusion and AMSTAR criteria. The final paper included 25 narrative reviews and 41 systematic reviews (SR), with half of the SRs reporting on the safety of herbal interventions. Various therapeutic properties of over 60 herbal medicines were outlined, some individually and most of them as part of herbal formula (combinations).

Conclusion/Summary: Herbal interventions demonstrated statistically significant improved recovery in patients with COVID-19. The most common therapeutic properties identified were immunological properties, anti-inflammatory, anti- microbial, and antioxidant while the most frequently investigated herbs were Glycyrrhiza glabra/uralensis, Tinospora cordifolia, and Curcuma longa. More attention is needed on the regulation of herbal medicines, the quality of research, and the safety of herbal medicines.


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How to Cite

Oakes K, Saunders P, Lloyd I, Turner T, Gruska J, Gibbs B, Gleitzman S, Portella CF, Friend J, Graham K, Leslie M. Herbal Medicine and COVID-19: An Umbrella Review. CANDJ [Internet]. 2023 Dec. 28 [cited 2024 Jun. 24];30(4):43-65. Available from: https://candjournal.ca/index.php/candj/article/view/161




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