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Also known as purple coneflower, Echinacea is one of the most popular natural remedies, and for good reason. You can achieve a number of benefits from taking Echinacea, a safe remedial herb that produces few side effects.
One of the earliest uses of Echinacea was strengthening the immune system. Some research shows that this herb increases the number of white blood cells used to fight infection. Taking between 750 and 1,500 mg per day may help you ward off diseases such as the common cold, and could even shorten the duration of your illness. Even so, some medical experts recommend taking Echinacea for no more than eight weeks at a time before cycling off to ensure you do not become immune to its benefits.
A study performed at McGill University on mice showed that Echinacea did reduce or eliminate leukemia in rodents. It also proved that Echinacea extended the lifespan of both leukemic and non-leukemic mice, and that the herb might even be effective at shrinking tumors. Mice who took Echinacea also had an increase in the number of NK cells, which are known to prevent cancer, within one to two weeks. The results of this study are promising, as humans and mice share a 97% genetic commonality.
According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, taking 8,000 mg of Echinacea a day over a four-week period produced high levels of erythropoietin, a substance known for building red blood cells. It also increased VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete is capable of using, and often improves running economy, or the energy demand required for running. Results of this study suggests that Echinacea could be useful at building endurance, particularly in distance runners.
Through the years, Echinacea has been used to treat a variety of infections, including gum disease, tonsillitis, strep throat, syphilis, malaria, diphtheria, and vaginal yeast infections. Native Americans have even used it as a remedy for snake and venomous spider bites. Veterinarian Patrick Jones claims that purple coneflower has a unique ability to stimulate hyaluronic acid production, making it an excellent choice for repairing torn cartilages and ligaments as well as for treating arthritis.
The method of consuming Echinacea will depend on your reason for taking it. If you would like to improve endurance or enhance your immune system, 350 milligram supplements once or twice daily is sufficient. For treating infections, snake, or spider bites, a tincture is more effective. If you notice signs of a cold, steep this plant in hot water to create a tea that you can drink to provide almost immediate relief from your symptoms.
The benefits of Echinacea as an infection-fighting drug have long been established. Modern research is backing up what herbalists have long known, and is also providing new evidence of its effectiveness in other areas of medicine. If you are looking for a natural way to boost your immune system and improve your overall health, you may want to consider taking Echinacea.