Viral Infections

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2021-08-23 (EDT)

Viruses are the most important cause of infectious disease worldwide. As a group, viruses cause disease by a wide variety of mechanisms, and can contribute to both acute and chronic illness. The severity of virus-associated conditions varies widely and includes everything from the common cold, chicken pox, and measles, to HIV, rabies, and polio.[1]

Viral Infections

Viral Infection
Causes Food, Air, Water, Soil, Medical Settings
See Also Infections, Respiratory Conditions, Digestive Conditions, Urinary Conditions, Musculoskeletal Conditions
Books Books on Infections, Allergies, Intolerances
Articles Articles on Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities

Naturopathic Assessment

Any infection depends on two factors: personal susceptibility and exposure to a pathogen. The naturopathic assessment looks at both aspects. The stronger a person's vitality the less likely they will be affected by exposure to a virus or other pathogen.


The following are common sources of viruses:[2]

  • Air
  • Viruses commonly affecting the respiratory tract are shed in aerosol droplets, which can infect other individuals if inhaled. Viruses transmitted in this fashion include influenza, picornaviruses, rhinoviruses, varicella, and B19.
  • Feces
  • Many common viruses are spread via fecal-oral transmission. These viruses include picornaviruses, rotaviruses, Norwalk viruses, and adenoviruses.
  • Body Fluids
  • Viruses transmitted via the blood and/or sexual contact include HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cytomegalovirus, and human T-cell lymphotropic virus 1.
  • Fomites
  • Non-enveloped viruses such as rhinoviruses, poxviruses, and adenoviruses may be acquired from contact with inanimate objects (fomites) such as toys, doorknobs, and clothing as they are able to survive outside of living hosts.
  • Arthropods and Animals
  • Viruses transmitted via bites from arthropods and animals include togaviruses, and rhabdoviruses.

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing for viral infections includes:

  • Laboratory testing includes CBC, viral culture, viral serology, molecular detection, and viral antigen detection. The method used is based on the specific viruses suspected.[3]


Viral infections are grouped into three categories:[1]

Acute Viral Infections

  • Acute viral infections occur with quick onset and are self limiting. Acute viral infections include noroviruses, and the common cold.

Persistent Viral Infections

  • Latent Viral Infections are where a virus remains in host cells without active replication. Examples of latent infections include herpes viruses and retroviruses.
  • Chronic Viral Infections are characterized by continuous replication. Examples of chronic viral infections include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and cytomegalovirus.

Cancer Promoting Viruses

  • Some types of viruses can increase the risk of developing malignancies. The viral genome (genetic information) is incorporated into host cells, and in the case of several viruses, the incorporation occurs in genes responsible for cancer regulation. Viruses associated with an increases risk of certain cancers include EBV, HPV, HCV, and HIV.

Common Symptoms

The signs and symptoms associated with viral infections are as varied as viruses themselves. Some common symptoms include, but are not limited to:[1]

Common Virus-Associated Conditions

Conditions caused by viral infection include but are not limited to:

  • Respiratory Viral Infections including:[4]
  • Common Cold
  • Influenza
  • Viral Pneumonia
  • Bronchiolitis (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)
  • Croup (parainfluenza virus)
  • Gastrointestinal Viral infections including:[5]
  • Norwalk (and other noroviruses)
  • Rotaviruses
  • Astroviruses
  • Systemic Viral Infections including:[3]
  • Mononucleosis (Epstein Barr Virus or Cytomegalovirus)
  • Vector Borne and Travel Related infections including:[6]
  • West Nile Virus
  • Equine Encephalitis (Western, Eastern, and Venezuelan)
  • Colorado Tick Fever
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rickettsia (Rocky Mountain spotted fever)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Sexually Transmitted Viral Infections[7]
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human Papilloma Virus
  • Genital Herpes (Herpes Simplex)
  • Viral exanthems (rash causing) including:[8]
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Erythema infectiosum (5th disease, parvovirus B19)
  • Roseola infantum (6th disease)
  • Mumps


The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. The treatment for viral infections follow the same principles as all infections. The specific type of infection, i.e., whether it is acute or chronic and what physiological system is affected dictates the specific treatment strategy.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

For a comprehensive list of therapies see Infection.

Many common viral infections are self limiting. Chronic viral infections require ongoing immune system support and symptomatic management.

Aloe (Aloe vera), Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), Baptisia (Baptisia tinctoria), Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), Siberian Ginseng (Eluetherococcus senticosus), Cleavers (Galium aparine), Juniper (Juniperus communis), Olive (Olea europaea), Osha (Ligusticum porteri), Biscuit root (Lomatium dissectum), Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), Pokeweed (Phytolaca americana), Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), Pau d'Arco (Tabebuia avellanedae), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Chappell JD, Dermody TS (2009) Mandell: Mandell, Douglas, and Benett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases 7th ed Vol 2 Part III Sect A Chap 132 Introduction to Viruses and Viral Diseases Churchill Livingstone
  2. Murray PR, Rosenthal KS, Kobayashi GS, Pfaller MA (2002) Medical Microbiology 4th ed Section V Virology Mosby
  3. 3.0 3.1 Woods GL, McPherson RA (2011) McPherson: Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Laboratory Methods 22nd ed Part 7 Medical Microbiology Chap 55 Viral Infections Saunders
  4. Mossad SB (2010) Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine 2nd ed Upper Respiratory Tract Infections Saunders
  5. Franco MA, Greenberg HB (2011) Goldman: Goldman's Cecil Medicine 24th ed Chap 388 Rotaviruses, Noroviruses, and Other Gastrointestinal Viruses Saunders
  6. Freedman DO (2009) Mandell: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases 7th ed Chap 330 Infections in Returning Travelers Churchill Livingstone
  7. Habif (2009) Habif: Clinical Dermatology 5th ed Chapter 11 Sexually Transmitted Viral Infections Mosby
  8. Usatine RP, Krejci-Manwaring J (2011) Rakel: Textbook of Family Medicine 8th ed Chap 33 Dermatology Saunders
  9. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser (2010) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto