Echinacea is an herb that is native to areas east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. It is also grown in western States, as well as in Canada and Europe. Several species of the echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its leaves, flower, and root. Echinacea was used in traditional herbal remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes. Later, settlers followed the Indians' example and began using echinacea for medicinal purposes as well. For a time, echinacea enjoyed official status as a result of being listed in the US National Formulary from 1916-1950. However, use of echinacea fell out of favor in the United States with the discovery of antibiotics. But now, people are becoming interested in echinacea again because some antibiotics don't work as well as they used to against certain bacteria.
Brew 1-3 grams in tea as a daily tonic for immune system support. Mix with honey & drink larger amount (3-9 grams) if recovering from a bout of illness.
Echinacea is widely used to fight infections, especially the common cold and the flu. Some people take echinacea at the first sign of a cold, hoping they will be able to keep the cold from developing. Other people take echinacea after cold of flu-like symptoms have started, hoping they can make symptoms less severe or resolve quicker.
Echinacea is also used against other types of infections including urinary tract, ear and throat infections but there is not good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Sometimes people apply echinacea to their skin to treat boils, skin wounds, or burns.
Commercially available echinacea products come in many forms including tablets, juice, and tea.
There are concerns about the quality of some echinacea products on the market. Echinacea products are frequently mislabeled, and some may not even contain echinacea, despite label claims. Don't be fooled by the term "standardized." It doesn't necessarily indicate accurate labeling. Also, some echinacea products have been contaminated with selenium , arsenic, and lead.
How does it work?Echinacea seems to activate chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms.
Laboratory research suggests that echinacea can stimulate the body's immune system, but there is no evidence that this occurs in people.
Echinacea also seems to contain some chemicals that can attack yeast and other kinds of fungi directly.
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