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The Health Benefits of Echinacea


It seems unbelievable that we are into October already and seeing Christmas produce on the shelves!. It is getting dark earlier and we are getting a taste of the cold, damp weather of Autumn moving into Winter. It also means we are all more susceptible to the common cold, influenza and other infections which, whilst not usually life threatening often makes us take to our beds feeling generally miserable and fatigued with the symptoms. Until quite recently there was a tendency for people to rush to the GP hoping to be prescribed antibiotics but we are now aware of the dangers of “over using” these drugs and the fact that many of these conditions are caused by viruses. Most of us are now keen to use more natural ways of tackling the problem as we know that despite extensive research no complete cure has been found for the common cold and we need to awake and reinforce our body’s own defences using other methods.

Echinacea comes from a group of plants in the daisy family growing up to 4 feet in height. It grows naturally in many parts of Eastern and Central America and has been used for many years by the Native American Indians initially as a “blood purifier” and treatment for snake and insect bites. It is also known as the Purple Coneflower but the word Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos meaning hedgehog on account of the spiky heads seen on the plant. The products are made from the leaves, flower and root of the plant and are generally available as tablets, lozenges, tea, effervescent cold and flu remedies, drops and creams. As with many herbal remedies and supplements there is a lack of well controlled and documented trial to support the evidence but there are increasing positive reports of its benefits including a trial conducted by Cardiff University last year. It appears thatEchinacea acts as a type of immunostimulator warding off infections as well as having some anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is most well known for treating colds and flu and can cut chances of catching a cold by as much as 50%, reduces duration of illness by 1.5 days as well as the severity of symptoms experienced. There have also been reports of it helping with many other common conditions such as urinary, ear and yeast infections, and cream used for skin eruptions. Although there is no definite evidence to support the claims many cancer sufferers have found it helpful in dealing with unpleasant side effects from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

It is generally given in divided doses three times daily and it is suggested that it is not taken for an indefinite period but in short bursts up to 4 months with a break between. Side effects seem to be rare and mild when they do occur but this product is not recommended for children under 12 years and people suffering from chronic medical conditions should consult their GP before starting to take it.

Why don’t you try Echinacea? We would love to hear your opinions and share with our many customers who prefer to try the natural, organic route to good health in the first instance.