Fact or Myth: Can Echinacea Strengthen Your Immune System?

This is a FACT.

Echinacea has been the topic of much debate. Is it or isn’t it an immune-boosting miracle herb? Scientific reviews have been mixed, so to be on the conservative side it’s safe to say that while it might not be a “miracle” it certainly possesses immune-boosting faculties. A Native American medicinal remedy, echinacea has been shown to help accelerate the healing of…

  • Colds
  • Flus
  • Sore throats
  • Sinus infections
  • Hay fever
  • Bronchitis
  • Canker sores
  • Ear infections
  • Enlarged lymph glands
  • Gingivitis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Yeast infections

It’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties cannot be refuted.

echinaceaEchinacea’s Effect on the Immune System

Echinacea is highly concentrated with phenols and alkylamides which have been proven to exert a highly beneficial impact on the immune system. The compound echinacein defends healthy cells against bacteria and viruses, and studies have revealed that echinacea increases the number of white blood cells and enhances macrophage activity. (Macrophages rush to the scene to fight off invaders and infection.)

One study made up of 95 people fighting the early stages of cold or flu showed that drinking several cups of echinacea tea for five days helped cold sufferers feel better sooner than those who did not treat their colds with echinacea. A University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy review of over a dozen echinacea studies found that the risk of catching a cold could be lowered by as much as 58% with echinacea supplementation…and the duration of a cold shortened by as much as 1.4 days.

Other studies, however, seem to refute such findings. A Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health study suggested that echinacea has no significant influence on the common cold and could only shorten the duration of symptoms by half a day at most. What’s with the contradictory findings?

Echinacea studies vary according to the type, strength, and part of the echinacea used, and some formulations work better than others. The roots of the echinacea plant are concentrated mostly with volatile oils, whereas the stems and flowers are packed with polysaccharides, touted for their immune-enhancing effects. Research indicates that the above the ground parts of echinacea demonstrate the most impact on the immune system.

In Germany, where herbs are regulated by the government, echinacea roots are used to treat flu infections, and the above ground parts are used to heal colds, upper respiratory infections, UTIs, and wounds.

Treating a Cold with Echinacea

ConsumerLab.com examined 11 echinacea brands and found that only 4 of them contained the ingredients on the label! Ten percent had no echinacea whatsoever…half were wrongly labeled in terms of the type of echinacea used…and more than half didn’t contain the correct amount of active ingredients specified on the label.

It’s imperative to purchase echinacea from a high quality supplement provider. Health experts recommend using echinacea for no more than eight weeks at a time. Use at the first sign of illness, or during cold season to keep your immune system strong and healthy.

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