Believe it or not, many people are unaware of what Echinacea is, and all the benefits of this powerful little herb. Echinacea is native to various areas east of the Rocky Mountain Range, but is also grown in more western parts of the United States, Canada, and Europe. There are several types of Echinacea grown. The leaves, flowers, and roots of this herb were first used by the Great Plains Indian Tribes for medicine and to make herbal remedies. Settlers later on began using this herb for medicinal purposes as well. And, for a little trivia that I didn’t even know about…from 1916-1950, Echinacea was listed in the US National Formulary, and fell out of favor in the US when antibiotics were discovered. Boo!!!
Good news though…more people are becoming re-engaged in the use and benefits of Echinacea, because more and more antibiotics are becoming more resistant to certain strains of bacteria. It seems that Echinacea contains some types of chemicals that can directly flight yeast and certain kinds of fungi. Echinacea activates chemicals in the body to help reduce inflammation, and laboratory research also shows that it can stimulate the body’s immune system. Echinacea is largely used to combat infections, including the common cold, flu, and many upper respiratory infections. There are various ways people use Echinacea to combat these infections. Some people will take Echinacea at the first signs of a cold, and some people will use the herbal remedy after their symptoms have started to help minimize the severity of the infection.
Echinacea can be used to fight many other infections such as tonsillitis, strep throat, ear infections, swine flu, malaria, typhoid, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, indigestion, anxiety and rheumatoid arthritis. If not taking this herb orally, Echinacea can be applied to the skin to treat boils, gum disease, skin wounds, ulcers, burns, bee stings, hemorrhoids, herpes simplex, and the list goes on. And, believe it or not, Echinacea can be injected to treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections as well. WOW! I had no idea until researching this little herb, that Echinacea could be used to treat so many things.
Echinacea comes in many forms nowadays. Tablets, juice and tea seem to be among the more popular choices in the US. However, in the US particularly, there are more concerns about the quality of some of the Echinacea products being sold commercially. It seems as though some types of Echinacea products are being mislabeled, and don’t actually even contain Echinacea in them! Really? Just because the label reads “standardized”, it doesn’t always mean much. Some of the Echinacea products are even contaminated with lead, arsenic, and selenium. YUM!
With that being said, it is very important that you make sure you are purchasing all supplements, herbal or not, from a reputable source. If you are unsure of which brand to purchase, be sure to ask your health care professional which brand they would recommend. During the cold and flu season I take one capsule/pill in the morning and one at night. If you are feeling well, you can just take one a day with your other vitamins, and at the first signs or symptoms of getting sick or coming down with something, you can take 2-3 capsulses 2-3 times a day as needed. At our office, we carry the brand, Metagenics, as many of you know. Many doctor’s offices carry this brand as it is one of the most reputable, and what is listed on the label is actually what is in the bottle! Should any of you have any questions about Echinacea, or any of the other supplements we carry at PHC, feel free to ask me when you are in the office for a visit, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.