Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, belongs to the sunflower family. It is a highly sought-after medical herb, especially at the onset of the cold and flu season, when people are exposed to these ailments on a daily basis. When properly used, it can be the closest thing one can have to a fast common cold remedy. It is generally safe to use, with no major side effects, even when used frequently and in high doses.
The herb works by stimulating the activity of the cells tasked to ward off all types of infection. Unlike an antibiotic that directly attacks harmful viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, purple coneflower increases and strengthens the immune cells to make them more efficient in fighting these unwanted intruders, including cancer cells. It stimulates growth of new tissues for faster healing of wounds, promotes T-cell activation, lessens the inflammation in arthritis, and relieves inflammatory skin disorders.
Uses and Benefits of Echinacea
The eye-catching perennial was first used by Native Americans, and it was adopted as a medicine by the early settlers. Members of the medical profession in the early years of the US depended heavily on the herb for the treatment of various illnesses. However, with the advent of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical medicines, it slowly lost its popularity.
Today, a lot of medical professionals are re-discovering the benefits that can be enjoyed from the herb. Various forms of purple coneflower have been made available in the market. In Germany alone, over 40 different products are registered.
Echinacea has long been used to treat infectious diseases and to enhance immune function, and it is likewise used today to help cure colds, influenza, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even AIDS.
Based on research, the herb has properties that can stimulate the natural immune function of the body. This is done by increasing the level of interferon, elevating the white blood cell activity, and triggering the attack by the blood cells on invading microbes. The herb also promotes the production of natural disease and cancer-fighting substances in the body.
Aside from its role as an immune system stimulant, the perennial is also ideal for use by people who suffer from recurring skin disorders like boils. It can also be used as a tonic to help the liver fight the harmful effects of toxins from the environment.
Dosage and Preparation
The herb does not have a particularly delectable taste when taken as a tea. Thus it is usually used in the form of pills or taken as tincture. Based on studies, however, it is more effective when taken in tincture or tea form rather than in powdered form contained in capsules. At the onset of flu, colds, bladder infection, sinus infection, and other similar ailments, herbalists recommend frequent large doses of the herb.
For acute cases of colds or flu: Take 1 tsp of tincture every 1-3 hours; or 1-2 capsules every 2-3 hrs. for the first two days then reduce dosage to 2 tsp of tincture or 6 capsules/day.
For chronic infections: Take½ tsp of tincture or 2 capsules 3x daily for 3 weeks; then abstain for a week before resuming.