Treating Colds with Echinacea
Getting a cold? There is a simple herbal remedy that can help stop it in its tracks fast.
The roots and sometimes the flowers of echinacea, a beautiful member of the sunflower family is also known as purple coneflower. It can make an important medicine. It is used widely to treat colds, flu, bronchitis, and all types of infections.
What Is It Used For…
This showy perennial was used by the Native Americans and adopted by the early settlers as a medicine. Members of the medical profession in early America relied heavily on echinacea, but it fell from favor with the advent of pharmaceutical medicine and antibiotics. Many physicians are rediscovering the benefits of echinacea. Many forms of echinacea are available to choose from; Germany has registered more than 40 different echinacea products.
Long used for infectious diseases and poor immune function, echinacea extractions also are used today to help treat influenza, colds, chronic fatigue syndrome, and AIDS. Research has shown echinacea stimulates the body’s natural immune function. It does so by increasing the activity of white blood cells, raising the level of interferon, and stimulating blood cells to engulf invading microbes. Echinacea also increases the production of substances the body produces naturally to fight cancers and disease.
Besides its use as an immune stimulant, echinacea is recommended for individuals with recurring skin lesions, such as boils, and as a tonic to improve the liver’s ability to reduce the effects of environmental toxins.
How to Use It
Echinacea is not terribly tasty in tea. For this reason, echinacea is most often taken as a tincture or as pills. Teas and tinctures, however, appear to be more effective than the powdered herb in capsules. Most herbalists recommend large and frequent doses at the onset of a cold, flu, sinus infection, bladder infection, or other illness.
For acute cold or flu infection: Take 1 teaspoon of tincture every one to three hours or 1 to 2 capsules every two to three hours for the first day or two; then reduce the dosage to 2 teaspoons tincture or 6 capsules per day. For a chronic infectious problem: Take 1/2 teaspoon tincture or 2 capsules echinacea, three times a day for three weeks and then abstain for one week before continuing again.
Echinacea is considered quite safe, even at high and frequent doses. Some people, particularly those who are allergic to ragweed and list hay fever as a seasonal complaint, may have an allergic reaction to echinacea — typically, itchy eyes and throat. Frequent use of echinacea may mask the symptoms of a more serious underlying disease. If you have any persistent condition, be sure to consult a physician.