Echinacea – Does it prevent cold?
Yes, modern research confirms that Echinacea may prevent cold and boost the immune system!
“Researchers, led by Dr Craig Coleman from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, combined the results of 14 different studies on Echinacea’s anti-cold properties.
In one of the 14 studies the researchers reviewed, echinacea was taken alongside vitamin C. This combination reduced cold incidence by 86%.” (source)
Dr. Andrew Weil refers to echinacea as an herbal immune enhancer and antibiotic substitute that is nontoxic. He reports that there has been extensive research in Germany showing that echinacea increases the number and activity of key white blood cells involved in immunity. Researchers at the University of Munich discovered echinacea increases the T-cells in the body by over 30 percent compared to immune-stimulating drugs. In the early 70s a study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry showed that echinacea inhibited tumor growth in rats. As well as boosting immunity, echinacea is considered effective in many infectious conditions including colds and flus, sinusitis, staphylococcus (staph), streptococcus (strep), urinary tract infections, and others.
Cold/Sore throat formula (delicious Echinacea tincture – from Tieraona Low Dog, MD)
2 ounces of E. purpurea dried root, ground or chopped finely
12-16 ounces of brandy (80-100 proof)
10 sliced unsulfured dried apricots, sliced
1 tbsp. honey (optional, or use maple syrup)
How to Take It:
Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child’s weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 to 25 kg), the appropriate dose of echinacea would be 1/3 of the adult dose.
Use alcohol-free preparations for children.
For general immune system stimulation, during colds, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, or bladder infections, choose from the following forms and take 3 times a day generally for 7 – 10 days:
* 1 – 2 grams dried root or herb, as tea
* 2 – 3 mL of standardized tincture extract
* 6 – 9 ml of expressed juice (succus)
* 300 mg of standardized, powdered extract containing 4% phenolics
* Tincture (1:5): 1 – 3 mL (20 – 90 drops)
* Stabilized fresh extract: 0.75 mL (15 – 23 drops)
For slow healing wounds, creams or ointments should be applied as needed.
The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs contain active substances that may trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, people should take herbs under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
People with tuberculosis, leukemia, diabetes, connective tissue disorders, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, any autoimmune diseases, or, possibly, liver disorders should not take echinacea. There is some concern that echinacea may reduce the effectiveness of medications that suppress the immune system. For this reason, people receiving organ transplants who must take immunosuppressant medications should avoid this herb. (See “Possible Interactions.”)
In rare cases, echinacea may cause allergic reactions ranging from a mild rash to anaphylaxis (a life threatening reaction accompanied by throat tightening, shortness of breath, and, possibly, fainting). People with asthma and allergies may be at an increased risk for developing these adverse reactions. People with allergies to plants in the daisy family (compositae) should not take echinacea unless they do so under the supervision of a health care provider.
There has been one report of an individual developing erythema nodosum (a painful skin condition) after taking echinacea to treat the flu.
When taken by mouth, echinacea may cause temporary numbing and tingling on the tongue.
Despite concerns that echinacea may be unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, evidence suggests that the use of echinacea during pregnancy does not increase the risk of birth defects or other pregnancy related health problems.
If you are taking any of the following medications, you should not use echinacea without first talking to your health care provider:
Econazole — Echinacea may be useful in combination with econazole, an antifungal agent used to treat yeast infections (such as athlete’s foot). When echinacea is used together with econazole, recurrence rates of these infections may be reduced.
Immunosuppressants — Immunosuppressants refers to a group of medications that are used for two main purposes — treat cancer and suppress the immune system following organ transplant so that the new organ is not rejected. Because echinacea can enhance immune function, people should not use the herb with immunosuppressive medications, especially when taken for organ transplant.
In terms of cancer treatment, a couple of test tube studies imply that echinacea may be useful when used in combination with cyclophosphamide, one medication in this class. Using echinacea with this or other chemotherapy agents that act as immunosuppressants, may allow the cancer fighting medicines to kill the tumors while still protecting the immune system. If this theory proves to be correct then echinacea could possibly prevent many of the side effects of chemotherapy. (full article)