|Echinacea: A Wise Choice for Upper Respiratory
If you haven't tried echinacea to help you through a cold or flu bug, you
might want to consider it. This herb has been used for hundreds of
years—in America, native Americans used it and shared
their knowledge of its medicinal value with early European settlers. Recent
scientific studies are supporting its ability to reduce both the severity and
duration of colds, flus, and sore throats when it's taken at the onset of
symptoms. It appears to stimulate the immune system's response to infections;
however, it has not been shown effective for preventing upper respiratory
Echinacea comes from the dried root and leaves of the Echinacea
purpurea plant and its related species. There are many different forms of
echinacea available, including teas, tinctures, and capsules. At the
first sign of a cold, experts recommend taking small, frequent doses of 1 to 2
droppers of tincture every 2 to 3 hours or 200 mg in capsule form three times a
day. It is also recommended that you buy from a reputable manufacturer that uses
a standardized extract.
As symptoms improve, stop taking echinacea. The safety of long-term echinacea
use is unknown, and experts don't recommend using it for more than 8 weeks in a
row. Side effects may include gastrointestinal distress, headache, and
hypersensitivity. It is not recommended for people with an autoimmune disease
such as multiple sclerosis or HIV/AIDs. It is not known whether or not echinacea
can be used safely during pregnancy, so it's possibly wise to avoid using it
until after the birth of your child.
Remember that often colds and flu are your body's way of saying it's time to
slow down. Don't forget the tried-and-true remedies: Drink a lot of fluids and
get plenty of rest.
Tincture: A preparation made from alcohol or water and alcohol,
containing an herb strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to
10 parts solvent.
The Healing Power of Echinacea, Goldenseal, and Other Immune System
Herbs by Paul Bergner (Prima Publishing 1997)
Echinacea by Mark Stengler (Impakt Communications
Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs, and Supplements.
Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Barret B, Vohmann M, Calabrese C. Echinacea for upper respiratory infection.
J Fam Pract. 1999;48:628-635.
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic
Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Tex: The American Botanical Councial and
Boston, jMass: Integrative Medicine Communications;1998.
Brinkeborn RM, Shah DV, Degenring FH. Echinaforce and other echinacea fresh
plant preparations in the treatment of the common cold. Phytomedicine.
Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, Bauer R, Wagner H. Immunomodulation with
echinacea: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials.
|Review Date: January 2000|
|Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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