The common cold or flu can strike at any time of the year, especially in the wintertime when colder temperatures bring runny noses and chills. When it comes to locating a dietary supplement known to treat the symptoms of these extremely unwanted health ailments, echinacea has been working wonders on colds, flu, and beyond for more than a century.
What is Echinacea?
The rather attractive echinacea plant (also known as the purple coneflower) has been a popular herbal supplement and treatment option throughout both the United States and Europe. Today, the plant is known to offer antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and immune system stimulating properties. Of recent years, studies have been conducted to see if the plant has any positive effects regarding AIDS therapy.
In the past, Echinacea angustifolia was the species of plant that the Native Americans first used to treat medical problems, such as snakebites, persistent wounds, fevers, and respiratory infections. During the 19th century, early settlers caught onto the herb’s healing powers of echinacea, which soon took hold of the United States, as it became a popular pharmaceutical remedy in the 1920s. Door-to-door businessmen even began selling herbal mixtures containing echinacea.
Less potent than angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea is the species of plant used today to treat colds and flu. If the plant was so good in relieving cold and flu symptoms, why is the species with the higher variety not in use? Actually, a historical blunder is the cause for the widespread use of Echinacea purpurea.
As America promoted the benefit of the plant, Germany soon fully embraced its capabilities. The demand for the plant was so high that imported echinacea could not keep up. The top pharmaceutical company in the country made the mistake of purchasing a high quantity of purpurea seeds, thus catapulting the lesser-potent species into the forefront of treatment. Today, the plant is used to treat more than 1 million minor respiratory infection cases in Germany .
It is the root of the echinacea plant that is used to treat numerous infections and inflammations, regardless of its fresh or dried form. The plant should be harvested after flowering has taken place, where the roots are washed, chopped and then dried. The product is then used to create tinctures, powders, pills, and capsules. Parts of the flower are also known to provide an efficient antibiotic. The dried root and powder also makes a soothing tea.
As a Dietary Supplement
When taking echinacea natural supplements, recent studies suggest a total of 1000 mg (three times per day) will ensure the best results. To give a child an echinacea dietary supplement, you will have to adjust the recommended dose for an adult. Since most herbal dosages are calculated using weight, as a rule of thumb, giving a child 1/3 of an adult dose is recommended. .
Echinacea works best when taken at the first sign of flu or cold for a period of 7 to 14 days. It is suggested to avoid taking echinacea for any longer stretches of time. The main uses for the herb is for the treatment of cold and flu symptoms, but the plant has shown promise in treating acute flare-ups of chronic bronchitis, and even genital herpes.
a) Acute Stages of Infections:
Taking three 200mg capsules three times per day is a proposed treatment for the early signs of infection. Every 2 hours, 10 ml doses of decoction may also substitute a dietary supplement. A decoction is a water-based solution made from the root of the echinacea plant that has been simmered in boiling water.
Soaking echinacea in vodka or rum will create a tincture that has a rather strong effect. 2-5ml doses of tincture should be taken every 2-3 hours. An individual may also opt to take three 200mg capsules three times per day instead of creating a tincture. The chills associated with flu and cold can be treated as well.
c) Urinary Tract Infection:
Three 200mg capsules taken three times per day are known to ease UTI symptoms.
d) Skin Infections:
Using a diluted tincture or decoction is an effective treatment for stubborn wounds. For weeping cases of eczema, you may dust the powder form of echinacea onto infected areas. When combining the powder with marshmallow, boils can be treated.
e) Sore Throats:
Mix 10 ml of tincture in a glass of warm water to create a gargle that provides soothing relief.
f) Food Poisoning and Snakebites:
10 ml doses of tincture can be used to treat this health concern.
It is advised to take the correct dosage for echinacea because taking higher doses have been known to cause nausea and dizziness. Also, there have been a handful of cases regarding allergic reactions, but this is extremely rare. Pregnant women should also refrain from taking this herbal remedy. With all treatment methods that you introduce to your body; you should always consult your doctor first.
Possible Side Effects
Echinacea is highly regarded as being one of the safest herbal supplements to consider. The worst side effects associated with this herb come when taking high doses (nausea and dizziness). Rare cases of adverse reactions have included minor gastrointestinal issue and frequent urination .