Can a small purple flower strengthen our immune system and shield us against viruses and flus? Yes, it is the Echinacea!
Echinacea is a herb that grows mainly in northern and western America and belongs to the larger family of sunflowers (Echinacea Purpurea or Echinacea Angustifolia). Traditionally it is used as an analgesic herb to alleviate bites and to heal wounds or as an immunostimulant in order to treat infections.
The main ingredients contained in the plant are beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, quercetin, vitamin C and vitamins of B complex, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and niacin (vitamin B3).
Action and properties
Many studies have shown that echinacea’s supplements boost immune system. It seems that Echinacea enhances the activity and production of sevral type of cells of immune system, which are responsible for the recognition and elimination of pathogens. In particular, it increases the activity of macrophages and a-necrosis factor (TNF- alpha) up to 30%, while also stimulates production of white blood cells by bone marrow (B and T lymphocytes).
Actions – properties
- Antiviral activity
- Antifungal activity
- Antibacterial effect
- Stimulation of the immune system
- Accelerates tissue healing
Echinacea does not address the agent that caused the virus disease or infection, but activates and enhances the activity of immune system. Thus there is no tolerance developed against bacteria and viruses, as with common antibiotics.
When to use supplements
Many studies have shown that Echinacea has both therapeutic and preventative properties. It accelerates the recovery period from colds and significantly reduces the severity of symptoms (eg, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, sneezing, headache etc.). Moreover, there has been found that it helps increase body’s resistance against viruses like herpes.
There are indications that echinacea may help prevent colds or flus in very early stages. Studies highlight Echinacea as a powerful antibacterial and antifungal supplement for urinary tract and skin infections (staphylococcus). Moreover, it helps treat symptoms of urinary tract infections and irritable bladder and there are indication of use in cases of recurrent fungal sinusitis, otitis, bronchitis tonsillitis etc.
It is an excellent antiseptic and for this reason it is used topically in wounds or as solution for gargling. Indications of use are:
- Viruses, cold, flu (influenza virus, herpes)
- Skin infections (staphylococcus)
- Bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract (otitis, bronchitis)
- Urinary tract infections
- Fungal infections
Safety, interactions and contraindications
Although there no side effects in taking echinacea, it should not be used for no reason or for prolonged periods of time. The maximum period is about 8 weeks otherwise it will lose its effectiveness and can even be toxic to the liver.
Echinacea is contraindicated in individuals with autoimmune and thyroid diseases (Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, etc.), individuals who take immunosuppressive drugs, suffer from leukemia, AIDS, tuberculosis or are allergic to daisies.
Pregnant or nursing women and children, should not take echinacea’s supplements unless they have the consent of their physician.
Types of Echinacea and method of making
The recommended daily intake is 1gr/day for a maximum of two weeks without interruption. Commercially Echinacea exists in several forms such as tablets, effervescent tablets, syrup, tincture, either alone or in combination with other antioxidants and immunostimulatory components (e.g. Vitamin C, elder, zinc etc. ).
In solution form can be used as an antiseptic wound or gargle if sore throats. Powder of echinacea is useful in cases of eczema. As a tincture, use 1-4ml, 3 times a day.
In our store you can find a wide variety of supplements with Echinacea.