Echinacea is Good for What Ails You
If you've ever seen gardens with purple-pink flowers that bloom in the late summer to mid-autumn, you've seen echinacea. It's a favorite of gardeners because of its tolerance to the elements. It also attracts butterflies! But it's more than just ornamental. While you may recognize it by the common name of "purple coneflower," it's also one of America's most popular herbal treatements.
How Is It Used?
Echinacea has been used for many generations to treat everything from toothaches to snake bites. Nineteenth century herbalists recognized its value as an immune system booster, and also used it to reduce the frequency and duration of colds and flu, speed the healing of wounds, lessen inflammation and combat infections.
Did You Know?
- Echinacea is a family of nine flowering plants indigenous to North America.
- Echinacea has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years as an antiseptic, pain killer and for the treatment of snakebites.
Books About Echinacea
Echinacea used to be an American best-seller During the early 20th century, because of its positive affects on diverse maladies. Around 1930, however, modern doctors decided it had no value. As a result, it fell out of favor until the 1980s, when people started becoming interested in herbal remedies again. Today, it's one of the best-selling herbal extracts on the market. There are varieties: Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia.
Studies have shown different results, but there's evidence that taking echinacea can help cold and flu symptoms and strengthen the immune system. It's best to take it at the first sign of a cold or flu, because it is most effective as a preventative.It can also shorten the duration of an illness, so taking it at any time during your illness may help.
Echinacea is also recommend to combat allergies and sinus problems. Much like with colds and flu, it's a good idea to take it early in allergy season -- before allergens are everywhere. It shouldn't be taken all the time though. It's best to take it for three weeks and then take one week off, because the body will adjust to it and it will lose its effectiveness.
How Safe Is It?
There are no known serious side-effects from taking echinacea, other than allergic reactions or mild nausea in very rare cases. This is because echinacea works doesn't destroy germs or act invasivly. Because it activates your body's natural resources to strengthen your immune system, the kind of side-effects that sometimes happen with pharmceuticals such as antibiotics aren't a problem.
The only caveat to this is that people with auto-immune diseases might have to be careful taking echincea. The evidence is inconclusive, but it's probably a good idea to not take it if you have an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus or scleroderma, or you're HIV-positive.