Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fight Off Colds and Flu with the Popular Echinacea Herb

Fight off colds and flu with the popular Echinacea Herb
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The herb Echinacea is widely believed to stimulate the body’s immune system and ward off infections, which is why it is one of the most popular herbs used today to help fight off colds and flu symptoms.


Study

As reported by the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, a recent study carried out by the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff (involving 755 participants) into the herb Echinacea reported the following positive results:

·        “Healthy adults taking 3 daily doses of Echinacea for 4 months reduced the number and duration of colds by an average of 26%.”  This was based on the result of combining the number of colds and their duration into one variable.
·        However, it’s noted that the report found no significant difference between the Echinacea group and the placebo group in terms of the number of colds caught by each group, although the study did show a marked difference in the length of time a cold lasted.


What is Echinacea and where does it come from?

Echinacea purpurea is commonly known as the purple coneflower and is native to the Midwestern region of North America.  It is believed that the Native Americans used Echinacea for its healing properties for hundreds of years.

The Echinacea flower has pink or purple petals together with a purple or brown central cone.  The seed head of this central cone has sharp spines, giving a spiky appearance and thus gives rise to the name Echinacea.  “Echinos” (Greek word) means “hedgehog”.

There are 3 plant varieties of Echinacea that are more commonly used in herbal preparations:

·         Echinacea purpurea
·         Echinacea angustifolia
·         Echinacea pallida

The leaf, flower and root can be used for different preparations.

Most commonly used to help fight cold and flu, Echinacea is also used by some people to help fight other types of infection such as urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, gum disease, tonsillitis.  Other uses are reported to include indigestion, headaches, skin conditions,


Range of Echinacea products

Echinacea is manufactured and sold in a range of different products, including cold relief remedies in the form of tablets, capsules, lozenges, teas, herbal infusions, tinctures, liquid extracts and pure extract products.


Is Echinacea safe to use?

When taken orally, Echinacea does not usually cause any side effects.

The above study reported no significant differences in the number of adverse events reported by the Echinacea group compared to the placebo group and no differences on key blood and biochemical measures either.

Echinacea is not considered suitable for under 12 year olds, due to risk of allergic reactions.


N.B.  If you have any health concerns or are taking any other medicines, it’s always advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional before taking any herbal medicines.

Prices/discounts indicated are correct at time of writing/publishing.  E&OE.






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