English Name : Purple Coneflower
Latin name : Echinacea purpurea Linn.
Description : Echinacea – the Immune Booster
Vasanda Kumar Nadarajah; student, Diploma in Natural Medicine, Malacca College of Complementary Medicine, Melaka.
Echinacea is primarily used for Colds, coughs and flu and other upper respiratory conditions; Enlarged lymph glands, sore throat, Urinary tract infections, and other minor infections. It has a significance effect to combat herpes and candida. Beside this Echinacea also used externally for wounds, skin regeneration, skin infections, psoriasis, eczema and inflammatory skin conditions
Echinacea increases the “non-specific” activity of the immune system stimulating the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which are directly toxic to bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient in attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells.
Echinacea facilitates wound healing and reduces the symptoms of and speeds up recovery from viral infections. Its anti-inflammatory effects make it useful externally against inflammatory skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema. It may also increase resistance to candida, bronchitis, herpes, and other infectious conditions.
Hundreds of scientific studies have documented the chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical applications of echinacea. The most consistently proven effect of echinacea is in stimulating phagocytosis, which is to encourage white blood cells and lymphocytes to attack invading organisms.
Now let us concentrate on the specific actions of Echinacea. It is proven through many scientific studies that Echinacea increases the number and activity of immune system cells, including anti-tumor cells, promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing, and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions. It gives a good effect on pathogens with its mild antibiotic action which is bacteriostatic, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Beside this Echinacea also inhibits the bacterial enzyme hyaluronidase, to help prevent bacterial access to healthy cells.
Echinacea is most effective when the person first notice that he or she have a cold coming up. In this case, his or her body has already begun to produce additional white blood cells to combat the cold. Taking Echinacea at this time helps to increase the number of white blood cells the body is producing. The resulting effect is that the increased numbers of white blood cells overwhelm the cold, eliminating it from the body.
Recommended Dosage : When someone feels the cold coming up, he or she should start by taking two Echinacea supplement pills. One should wait a few hours and reassess how he/she is feeling. Whether feeling better or worse than before start of the Echinacea? If one feels better, it’s a good bet that the Echinacea has already been successful in defeating the cold. If one feels worse, it means the cold is stronger than current white blood cell count trying to fight the cold. At this point one should double the dose of Echinacea. For instance, if previous dose was two, now it should be increased to four pills. One should wait for few more hours and reassess how he or she is feeling. If feeling worse than the before, the dose may be doubled again. And one should keep repeating this process until he or she can physically feel that the cold has started to subside. Think of the cold and our immune response as two bar graphs standing side by side. As the level of the cold increases we need to up our intake of Echinacea to increase the immune response to not just meet the level of the cold but to surpass it. But winter colds are tougher to suppress and that is why one may need to keep doubling the Echinacea intake as to continually surpass the level of the cold in the body. As the level of the cold increases, increasing Echinacea helps raise the immune response to keep the cold at a lower level than the immune response.
Contraindication : Echinacea has an excellent safety record and there is no known toxicity. However, according to the German Kommission E, echinacea should not be used in progressive systemic and auto-immune disorders such as tuberculosis, leicosis, connective tissue disorders, collagenosis and related diseases such as lupus. It should be noted that echinacea is not appropriate for chronic use: with such long-term use, echinacea appears to lose its effectiveness. Maximum periods of continuous use should not exceed 6 – 8 weeks.