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Friday, November 6, 2015

Echinacea to keep (or get) you well

Echinacea is one of the best-known herbs for stimulating the immune system. It is used to fight against colds, flu, and minor infections. The echinacea plant is a beautiful purple coneflower resembling a hot-pink sunflower and is indigenous to North America. Native Americans knew of echinacea’s powerful healing abilities and often used it to treat colds, flu, and other ailments. Echinacea is essential to have around at all times—at home, in your travel bag, and at the office.

Whenever you get sick, it’s a breakdown of your immune system on some level. So taking supplements to boost it back up will help keep you healthy. Echinacea increases the activity of the immune system.

According to the Herb Research Foundation, “Unlike a vaccine, which is active only against a specific disease, echinacea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting infections. Unlike antibiotics, which are directly lethal to bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient in attacking bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells. Echinacea facilitates wound healing and speeds recovery from viruses.”

To help keep your body’s defenses strong against infection, it is important to take enough echinacea and to take it often. But also be aware that with long-term use, it appears echinacea will lose its effectiveness. Six to eight weeks seems like the maximum time period for continuous beneficial usage. Although it’s not effective to take it over long periods of time, the benefits of taking echinacea for a short time are numerous. The rule of thumb I follow is to take supplements only when needed. (There is no known toxicity to echinacea.)

I use a product from Futurebiotics that has echinacea as well as golden seal and garlic. (Golden seal and garlic are also immune system stimulants.) Individually these herbs can work wonders; together they pack a powerful punch to fight against infections.

I generally keep this supplement in my home at all times of the year. If I have seen a client who was perhaps just coming down with something or just getting over a cold or some other contagious malady, I will take several Futurebiotics echinacea tablets right when I get home and then throughout that evening. I don’t encourage clients to come in sick, but if that does happen, I am armed with immune support and rarely if ever get sick.

Whatever you decide to take, I highly recommend having some kind of immune system stimulating/herbal supplement on hand for those times when you need an extra immune system boost.

For more healthful ideas if you’re not feeling well, see: