Echinacea is a robust wildflower with a wealth of health benefits. One of the most well-studied herbs, it has gained a reputation for decreasing the severity and length of the common cold. It has been shown to have numerous effects on the immune
system-from increased antibody responses to elevated interferon levels for fighting viruses to stimulation of white blood cells to work harder to fight infection.
There are several chemical compounds in echinacea that vary among the three species
of the plant, plant parts, and extraction techniques: Polysaccharides, glycoproteins, and alkylamides all have medicinal effecst that boost the immune system and inhibit viruses and bacteria. How echinacea works continues to be investigated. Daily use of echinacia
does not seem to protect against getting a cold; however , some studies point to an effect of shortening a cold's length by a day or two. To see benefits, take adequate doses of good product at the first sign of illness.
flowers consisti of prickly, domed centers encircled by a singer layer of lavendar-hued petals. Native Americans were using at least three species of the plant medicinally. The herb was something of a universal remedy to indians of the Great Plains and neighboring
regions. The Omaha-Ponca chewed fresh echinacea root to dull toothache pain. Bathing the skin witht he juice of echinacea roots helped heal burns and wounds. The Cheyenne used a tea breewed from powdered echinacea leaves and roots, or chewed the rots to soothe
sore gums, mough, and throat. Other tribes used various echinacea preparations to treat colds, coughs, colic, and even sankebites.
OBTAINING AND USING: Today, echinacea roots and flowers are uesed. The entire world's supply
of Echinacea purpurea is cultivated. It is sold in many forms in pharmacies, health food stores, and grocery stores.
Tea- Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons echinacea leaf/flower in 1 cup boiling water, or boil 1 teaspoon root in 1 to
2 cups water for 10 minutes.
Tinture- When coming with a cold, take either a tinture of echinacea root or the expressed juice from the aboveground parts of fresh E purpurea
dose varies with each echinacea product, depending on the plant part used and the species.
Anyone with an autoimmune condition must exercise caution in taking an immune-boosting herb like echinacea. Echinacea may inhibit certain
liver enzymes, theoretically increasing blood levels of medications such as itraconazole(for fungal infections) lovastatin(for lowering cholesterol), and fexofenadine(for allergies). so it is important to be careful when taking echinacea with these and other
medications, including birth control pills. A rare allergic reaction can occur in people who are allergic to other plants in the Asteracae(daisy) famil. Some people experience very mild stomach upset or dizziness. High does of echinacea can cause nausea.