Echinacea spp. is #3 is my list of Top '5' herbs to use during cold and flu season. Echinacea is a trusted herbal remedy during this season and a go-to for many. With the popularity of this herb, many may wonder why it is not my #1. Unlike Astragalus (my #2), which can be used daily for immune support, I have found Echinacea to be most effective when used at the first sign of an upper respiratory infection rather than as daily immune support. When you are feeling a bit "run down" or your throat feels "scratchy" and it is cold and flu season and others around you coughing and sneezing...this is the perfect time for Echinacea.
Echninacea is in the daisy family and the root of this plant is the part commonly used in medicinal preparations. The active constituents of Echinacea exhibit, antimicrobial, anti inflammatory and immune-modulating effects. There are three species of Echinacea that are often used: Angustifolia, Pupurea and Pallida. In commercial preparations, you will most often find the Angustifolia and Purpurea species. While there is a bit of debate regarding which of the two is most effective in reducing the incidence of cold/flu, both have been shown to exhibit the above therapeutic actions.
Note: The immune stimulating effect of Echinacea may not be suitable for all populations, particularly those with autoimmune disease. The use of Echinacea, as with all medications and supplements, should be done under the supervision of your physician.
Schapowal A, Klein P, Johnston S. L. Echinacea Reduces the Risk of Recurrent Respiratory Tract Infections and Complications: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Advances in Therapy (2015) 32:187–200
Bensky D, Clavey S, Stiger E. (2004). Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press.
Hoffman D. (2003). Medical Herbalism-The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press.
Natural Medicines Database. Last reviewed on May 12, 2017, last updated December 8, 2017. https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com.buproxy.bastyr.edu/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=963