Used traditionally by the Plains Indians of North America, it was adopted as a staple of European herbalism and is now used by millions throughout the world.
Coming from the Aster or daisy family and commonly called, the purple coneflower, you may find them in the woods or maybe a garden. I do not recommend using the flowers you find unless you are trained in identifying and using wild crated herbs. There are many similar looking herbs and it is easy to make a mistake.
Even when using Echinacea some people use the root and others the leaf.
Researchers sometimes use doses that are too small to be effective and predictably get no results! So you will find some studies report no activity from the herb and other studies show very significant help when used against microbial infection and against vital infection too.
The usual dose is 3 grams a day of the dried root and when recently I felt flu symptoms I used 3 one gram tablets a day and kept that up for a few days…the symptoms rapidly died away and I stopped taking the tablets a few days later.
This is a normal experience of using Echinacea – that it works within a few days. Of course if an infection is not the "real" problem then you may not get such fast relief.
I remember one such incident several years ago. I was busy travelling and studying and working…and I noticed a sore throat coming on. Echinacea did not shift it. I did not need the herb, I needed a rest and some detox before my sore throat abated.
It is easy when looking at herbal medicines to overlook good basic nutrition. Vitamin C works well to fight infections and to reduce the time it take to recover so it makes good sense to boost the effectiveness of Echinacea with vitamin C.
Doses are endless sources of controversy but I use 1 to 3 grams a day as a general recommendation – read my article on vitamin C for details.
Used together – at the dose you are comfortable with, you can expect to heal faster.
Used intelligently Echinacea can lend a hand in many common conditions with little risk of side effects or drug interactions.
Any concerns about usage should be addressed to a health care professional
Besides colds and flu Echinacea has been found to be useful in the treatment of arthritis, wound healing and inflammatory skin conditions.
Remember when dealing with any inflammatory illness to consider the use of an Omega 3 oil and to alter the diet to include foods with anti-inflammatory oils.
Have you used Echinacea in your healthcare? Do you prefer an alternative herb? Do tell!
Photo Credit: audreyjm529