purple echinacea flower

Echinacea

The Miracle Herb

If ever there was a miracle herb, Echinacea would fit the bill. You may have heard about this herb’s cold-relief benefits, or the fact that Echinacea is one of the best-selling herbal products in the world. This herb’s history is closer to home than most herbs, as its use was first documented by Native Americans. The interesting discovery of this herb, however, is a little less glamorous than its uses.

History of Echinacea

It's said that Native Americans first discovered the medicinal uses of Echinacea when they observed elk seeking out the Echinacea plant and consuming it when they were sick or wounded. These Native Americans actually identified the plant as elk root, not the common name of Echinacea that we use now.

In the 19th century, "eclectic" medicinal practitioners documented using Echinacea for everything from snake bites to pain relief. Its use as a cold-relief remedy didn't occur until later, when a Swiss herbal supplement maker was erroneously told that Native American tribes used Echinacea for cold prevention. In truth, the tribes used Echinacea to treat some of the symptoms that could have been caused by the common cold like sore throats and headaches.

Echinacea for Natural Cold Symptom Relief

Today, many studies have been done on this miracle herb. One study by the University of Connecticut combined findings from 14 previously reported trials examining Echinacea and concluded that Echinacea can reduce the chances of catching a cold by approximately 58%, and decrease the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days. In fact, in one of the largest studies on the use of Echinacea to protect against colds, it was discovered that the number of recurrent colds suffered by those with weak immune systems or a history of catching several bouts decreased each year by 60%. And yes, there are some studies that seemed to find Echinacea ineffective, but as Jon Barron has pointed out, they are seriously flawed.

Echinacea’s Antibiotic Properties

Immunify by Baseline Nutritionals

Echinacea’s benefits certainly aren't limited to cold and flu prevention, either. Research has also reported Echinacea to be effective in treating bronchitis, tuberculosis, infections, etc. In fact, it contains echinacoside (a natural antibiotic, comparable to penicillin in effect). However, alhough Echinacea has some antibiotic effect, allowing it to directly attack bacteria, it primarily works by making your own immune cells more efficient at attacking a broad range of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, which makes it invaluable in wound healing and in the treatment of infectious diseases. Some studies even indicate that Echinacea might be beneficial in helping with cancer as well.

Echinacea as a Natural Immune Booster

Echinacea also contains echinacein, a biochemical that protects against germ attack by neutralizing the tissue dissolving enzyme hyaluronidase, produced by many germs. Studies, such as the one published in Infection and Immunology, show that Echinacea contains substances that boost the ability of your body's macrophages to destroy germs. And other studies from the University of Munich have shown that Echinacea extracts boost T-cell production by as much as 30% more than immune boosting drugs.

Echinacea for Natural Infection Relief

Since Echinacea has immune boosting abilities, it’s probably not surprising that it’s also recommended in treating urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, ear infections, athlete's foot, sinusitis, hay fever, as well as slow-healing wounds. You will also find it as an ingredient in Jon Barron’s Immunify formula.

More Natural Health Benefits of Echinacea

And that’s not all; Echinacea has been used to treat…

  • Acid indigestion
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Diphtheria
  • Dizziness
  • Genital herpes
  • Gum disease
  • Malaria
  • Migraines
  • Pain
  • Rattlesnake bites
  • Rheumatism
  • Septicemia - Bloodstream infections
  • Streptococcus infections
  • Syphilis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Typhoid

How to Take Echinacea

So, what should you know about taking this miracle herb?

First, it's important to remember that not all Echinacea is the same. As with all herbs, there is a wide range of quality, potency, and consistency among the numerous vendors, so you will need to be an informed consumer. Therefore, you should always check the grade of herb used. Instead of looking for bargain prices, look for companies that use high-quality herbs grown organically and with their natural ratio of biochemicals still intact.

Next, you'll want to make sure you use Echinacea in a formula, not as a single herb. Herbal medicine treatments differ from traditional drugs. If you have a sore throat, you don't just dose yourself with an herb like you would take a pill or cough medicine. Herbal medicine makes use of herbal formulations as opposed to single herbs. Herbal formulas not only address particular symptoms, they also support the body as a whole. In addition, they make use of the synergistic effect inherent in many herbs.

A few simple, easy to remember guidelines to follow are:

  • Look for herbal formulations made from organic or wildcrafted herbs.
  • Look for formulations designed by real herbalists.
  • Look for (and expect) dramatic results -- Formulas that use high quality Echinacea should numb your tongue. If your tongue doesn’t numb and tingle when you put your Echinacea formula on it, then it’s probably low in its medicinal properties as well.

Finally, it’s important to understand that the immune system responds best to periodic stimulus, as opposed to constant stimulus. That is to say, you don't want to use your Echinacea formula every day. It's not that anything bad happens; it just becomes less effective as the body becomes used to the stimulation. Taking one week off a month is enough to maximize the immune boosting effect.

For more information about Echinacea, the studies about it and other recommendations, click here.

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Comments

  •  
    Submitted by Dr.P.K.Chhetri on
    October 24, 2014 - 9:51am

    But one should use Echinecia with caution when there is jaundice, liver dysfunction or hypo-thyroid, and I also doubt its efficacy in treating cold symptoms . It has no potency to treat diarrhoea., but it is highly effective in syphilis.

  •  
    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    October 27, 2014 - 10:27am

    While it is true that some naturopathic practitioners caution that Echinacea may cause liver damage if taken at high doses for more than two months straight, there is no actual evidence to support that view. Also, Jon is not recommending either of those things—as he is suggesting controlled doses for only three weeks a month. Other reports involving Echinacea and thyroid problems and hepatitis, or liver inflammation, as well as kidney failure and irregular heartbeat are again uncorroborated and extremely rare at best—and, in fact, likely have nothing to do with the herb. As for allergies to Echinacea, if you wait long enough, you will eventually find someone allergic to every herb, but allergic reactions to Echinacea are not common—and as Jon pointed out, if you avoid the flower and leaves, and stick with the roots and seeds, the chances of any allergic reaction are significantly diminished—and the potency of the herb strongly increased. And finally, when it comes to colds and Echinacea, Jon absolutely agrees with you. As he stated above, the value of Echinacea is in building the immune system so that you don’t get a cold; it has little impact in shortening a cold once you get it, as it takes longer for the Echinacea to build your immune system than it does for your immune system to finally respond to the cold virus on its own once it’s exposed to it. Bottom line: the value of Echinacea is in prevention, not cure. For cures, you want to look to natural anti-pathogens.

  •  
    Submitted by Steve on
    December 31, 2016 - 5:01pm
    NY , New York

    Upon first cold symptoms, I have used this herb in capsules (Target brand, I think) and find it to reduce the severity and length of time from what I normally would get when I get a cold in the winter. The only thing I would caution is it always makes me very tired. Just taking the dose on the label has almost a Nyquil effect, I assume because it is stimulating my immune system to the point of spending a lot of energy. I can have mild cold symptoms with no fever but I will feel as though I ran all day on a treadmill and I have a harmless office job, believe me. Also stopping it too quickly before all symptoms have subsided allowed my cold to return.

    I never take echinacea with any other OTC medication or antibiotics as I'm not a medicinal expert and people should use common sense about their own situation but I have seen unbelievably dumb things with OTC stuff.

    The other item your article may want to mention is whether or not a week or so of echinacea can create false normal or high white blood cell counts if the patient is having any bloodwork analyzed at the doctor.

    Thanks for the article! Have a happy healthy new year!

  •  
    Submitted by Dr.P.K.Chhetri on
    January 1, 2017 - 9:29am

    Indeed Echinacea is a wonder drug. I used this remedy liberally in curing typhoid and paratyphoid cases, its effect can be marked simply within three days of its administration. I did not use this remedy in typhoid cases for more than seven days. In old patients or whose immunity has compromised or who is suffering from any kidney ailments, Echinacea proved to be highly effective, because it does not produce any side effects like antibiotics. In old people in most of the typhoid cases antibiotics always prove fatal, because a patient requires prolonged treatment with high dose of antibiotics, which an old body cannot tolerate. Simply in front of me two old people with typhoid infection died, because they were administered antibiotics, and gradually both of them developed renal complications. There is not an iota of doubt in the efficacy of Echinacea in treating typhoid cases.In any case of intermittent fever also, Echinacea works wonder. Though in any acute infection it can be used blindfolded, yet in terms of cancer, there is no doubt it prolongs the life of the patient by easing the cancer pain as well as checking the infection, however, its efficacy in the treatment of cancer there is no effective record. Even in auto-immune disease, I found its use effective.If Echinacea is introduced in hospitals, many lives can be saved easily.Even in septicemia I found Echinacea highly effective, but it has to be administered as frequently as possible according to the severity of the case. .

  •  
    Submitted by Tom on
    January 10, 2017 - 11:02pm

    Hi Baseline,
    What would be the youngest age for a child/baby when echinacea could be given? Adjusting the dosage of course for the child's weight. Could it be given to 12 month old, or even younger?

    Thanks for your help :)

  •  
    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    January 15, 2017 - 4:03pm

    A number of parents have indeed successfully used the Immunify formula with very young children and toddlers. That said, we never recommend using our formulas with children without consulting their pediatrician first.

  •  
    Submitted by Tom on
    January 16, 2017 - 7:05am

    Thanks Baseline. I know recommendations for babies is tricky and there are also possible legal ramifications to consider. I appreciate your help as always.

    Happy New Year :)

  •  
    Submitted by mary parkin on
    January 26, 2018 - 10:21am
    portugal ,

    I believe ecinacea has banned in the U K as I used to buy a litre of the tincture every year from a very good herbalist.i am unable to purchase it as the herbalist told me it was banned so what are people buying is it a pharmaceutical brand which will be very inferior if that is the case please advise Mary

  •  
    Submitted by Petra on
    January 26, 2018 - 12:25pm
    Idaho

    Echinacea is related to ragweed which is causing allergic reaction in my body :-(

  •  
    Submitted by Suma G Nathan on
    January 28, 2018 - 9:35am
    Las Vegas , Nevada

    I take it with a combination of Golden Seal and Oregano for a gum infection in tincture pt it right on the gum, even the soreness goes away in 20 minutes...and have forward this to my darling who was a leery, but is taking it now...Jon you ae always so "right on"

  •  
    Submitted by Ryan on
    October 31, 2018 - 1:56am
    Las Vegas , Nevada

    The sad part but true is that there are Internet trolls on Google who are big pharma advocates who spread FUD about traditional medicine. You have to know how to filter information. We're talking billions if not trillions of dollars that big pharma could be losing if more people started using traditional holistic medicine. Most people's minds have been dumbed by the foods that we eat , the chemicals in it and the medicines that we've been prescribed. Most people are not aware hence the 1% controlling the rest of the population. Funniest thing I always see following a medicine commercial are the fast talking warnings of side effects including death heart attack fainting loss of memory disorientation etc. Why would you even consider it? LOL I'm not saying there's no room for modern medicine but I prefer a doctor who is both an expert in holistic healing and modern medicine. :)

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