The human immune system is truly a marvel. Given the numbers of things our bodies are exposed to, it is amazing that we survive at all. When we survive all the harmful attacks of the environment and free radicals we only have our Immune System to thank for, but we need something to make our immune system healthy and nature has blessed us with Echinacea plant, an immune system protector.
Echinacea is a flowering herb that comes in many varieties and is commonly known as the “Purple Coneflower”. Even if the plant is prized by gardeners for its pretty purple and reddish flowers, it’s actually the root that is used for medicinal purposes. The mature, slightly aromatic, sweetish-tasting rhizomes are lifted after four years to be cut and dried for medicinal use.
The root contains properties that boost immunity and speed wound healing, according to expert who studied this herb. Echinacea is rich in fructose, vitamin A, C and E.
Varieties: Though there are nine species of Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia are the two most often used commercially.
Available Forms: Echinacea is generally available as a tea, tincture, capsule, tablets, and cream.
How Does Echinacea Work? It increases the ability of white blood cells to destroy invading microorganisms, and boosts the strength of T-lymphocytes, which are vital to the immune system.
Health Benefits of Echinacea:
- Used by at least 14 Native American tribes for respiratory ailments and infections. Most studies on Echinacea have found that taking it will not prevent people from catching a cold, but taking Echinacea beginning when your symptoms first start could shorten the time you feel sick.
- American Indians used Echinacea to treat snake bites and other natural poisons, especially wounds.
- Useful as a veterinary medicine for horses.
- Effective against liver, stomach, and intestinal inflammation, and gained positive reports for treating boils, poison, oak, syphilis and gangrene.
- Effective against bacteria, fungal and yeast infections. Women taking Echinacea have fewer recurrences of yeast infections.
- Help prevent staphylococcus and strep infections.
- When used topically is an anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic. In a laboratory studies, an ointment made from Echinacea and vitamin E even helps put an end to recurrent vaginal yeast.
How to Prepare Echinacea Tea: Making a tea out of Echinacea herb is the best method of deriving the health benefit from Echinacea. It is quite simple to make. Add 1-2 teaspoons of Echinacea to a cup of filtered water. Bring it to boil, and then allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes. You may take a cup of Echinacea tea three times a day. To be on the safer side, consult an herbalist for safe dosage instructions.
Note: Echinacea should not be use for longer than a week or two at a time. The idea is that the herb loses its immune boosting power over time and may ultimately inhibit the growth of T-cells, which is not good for your immune system.
Side Effects of Echinacea: Reported adverse effects are generally uncommon and minor. They include abdominal discomfort, nausea, sore throat, rash, drowsiness, headaches, dizziness and muscle aches.
- Anyone with an autoimmune disorder such as multiple sclerosis or lupus should not use Echinacea because their ailments might be aggravated by further boosting their immune systems. In addition, people who are HIV positive are advised not to use the herb because the increase in white blood cells might cause that virus to become more powerful as well.
- People who are allergic to ragweed or other plants in the aster family may be sensitive to Echinacea.
- Echinacea doesn’t appear to be toxic in large doses, but heavy use has been shown to induce temporary infertility in men.
“This post was originally published on January 3, 2012 @7:40”