Echinacea has been promoted as a short term treatment for upper respiratory infections, but it is a much misunderstood herb. Shops sell all kinds of Echinacea products – fresh juice extracts, whole dried plant, fresh plant; and different species of Echinacea – E. pallida, E. angustifolia, E. purpurea and various combinations of these.
Kerry Bone, a well respected Australian herbalist, through his experience and research, has shown us the best way to use Echinacea. He found that the alkylamides, occurring in greatest amounts in the root, are the constituents that activate the immune system.
He also found that Echinacea does its best work in preventing infections and is best taken daily during times when risk of infection is high, such as during Autumn and Winter, during stressful periods or when travelling.
Echinacea primes the immune system to be ready to respond to germs by boosting the number and function of the white cells. It’s like putting a better set of eyes on your immune system so it ‘sees’ bugs, toxins, etc more accurately. The evidence for Echinacea as a preventative is far greater than that for Olive leaf.
The combination of E. angustifolia and E. purpurea root gives the best levels of the alkylamides. MediHerb Echinacea Premium that we have at the centre contains this combination.
You can do a ‘taste test’ to check for the presence of alkylamides in an Echinacea product, as they give a tingling, buzzing sensation on the tongue. Just chew a tablet or sip the liquid. If you don’t get the tingling feeling it doesn’t contain the alkylamides and won’t activate your immune system.
Echinacea only has a moderate effect when used after an infection has started. The best herb to use in this situation is Andrographis at doses of 4 gm 3 to 4 times daily as in Andrographis Complex or Andro NK.
For a good preventative effect, get some Echinacea Premium from Sunshine Health and take 1 tablet twice daily. For young children, we have a pleasant tasting alcohol-free Echinacea liquid extract. May you have a cold-free passage through Winter!