Can you give me some information on Echinacea
There are over 350 clinical, double blind studies on Echinacea's pharmacological action on the body. There are approx 9 species of Echinacea. Native Americans are thought to have introduced Echinacea to the Europeans. The first documented uses was for wound care, snakebites and general immune tonic. Most of the studies and use is in Germany.
It is thought to be most useful as an immunomodulator, where it helps mobilize the various components of the immune system against viral infections therefore best taken as the beginning of an attack. It has been shown to lessen the symptoms of a cold or flu, help fight generalized respiratory infections and bolster immunity.
Although various experts have opinions on which type of echinacea to choose, literature is not clear what is best. Most studies are done on Echinacea purpurea-juice where they have standardized it for 2.4% beta 1, 2 fructofuranosides.
For general cold fighting abilities, herbalists recommend taking capsules or liquid tincture every 2-3 hours until symptoms subside. For a season, they also recommend conservative use, best to use 8 weeks in a row and then take a week off.
Although the literature is not clear about long term use, one area of caution that is often stated is its use with autoimmune disorders. Until more studies are clear, best at this time to avoid taking Echinacea if you have an autoimmune disorder. No side effects have been noted. Some herbalists mention that some patients have had a "food-like" sensitivity to it whereas they sneeze or have tightening in the throat. Once the herb is stopped, symptoms subside. For these folks, it could be an "allergy reaction" to the herb.
- www.herbs.com Herb Research Council, The Healing Power of Herbs, Michael Murray, ND. Prima Publishing 1998.
- www.clinicalpearls.com CLinical Pearls Update: where science meets nature.