Herb of the Month - Echinacea!
Author: Corinne Bett Date Posted:1 July 2016
Echinacea is probably one of the best known herbs used today. It has been used for centuries to stimulate our immune defences whilst in the acute stage of fighting off a cold or flu. This great herb can also give that much needed symptomatic relief when in the midst of the dreaded lurgy, thank you Echinacea!
Echinacea has a long history of use by the indigenous Native Americans. They used it for a wide range of conditions. Interestingly, during the 1800s it was utilised as a standard medical practice in the United States for infections until the 20th century.
Fight that cold:
- Echinacea supports the body’s natural immune response.
- Echinacea has been found to be helpful in the treatment of an acute sore throat and may help alleviate other symptoms of colds and mild upper respiratory tract infections.
- It may reduce the duration of the common cold.
- It has a preventative action of in the body, to reduce the incidence of the common cold.
Pac-man to the rescue!
So how does Echinacea work?
- Echinacea stimulates the ‘non-specific’ activity of the immune system such as phagocytosis by white blood cells (the ‘Pac-man’ like gobbling up action of foreign invading cells). This boosts the cellular activity involved in fighting infections.
- Echinacea is thought to have a variety of actions in the immune system response, which help to reduce the symptoms and duration of the common cold.
- Echinacea is a potent anti-inflammatory, which may explain how it is able to help improve our immunity.
Look for the zing!
Echinacea preparations combining both the root and aerial parts of the herb, have found to be the most effective in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections such as colds. A good quality Echinacea preparation will produce a zingy or buzzing like sensation when the dried ground herb or liquid herb is placed on the tongue. Try it yourself!