If you search the cold and flu benefits of Echinacea on the internet, you'll find many mixed reports. One year health experts called it a champion for the health. The next year, they knock it down.
However, the most recent research suggest that Echinacea does in fact have cold and flu-fighting benefits…
“There seems to be some benefit from taking it throughout the cold season,” says Dr Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, which published an extensive product review of Echinacea. Here's everything you need to know about Echinacea.
Researchers believe that Echinacea prevents cold and flu by stimulating the immune system
Echinacea is a flowering plant that’s native to the United States and Canada. There are nine different species, but only three have been used medicinally, namely Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida.
Echinacea purpurea seems to have the greatest immune-boosting benefits. Researchers believe that Echinacea fends off cold
and flu by stimulating the immune system
. In lab tests,
Echinacea has been shown to boost production of infection-fighting white blood cells.
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Dr Cooperman explains that Echinacea is typically used as a preventative product and say that that’s how it’s most effective. He recommends taking 900 mg of Echinacea extract per day, divided into two or three doses.
According to Dr Cooperman, taking Echinacea lowers your risk of catching a cold or the flu by 20% to 25%. That’s about the same as other prevention strategies designed to kick-start the immune system, such as eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and managing stress
It’s important to read the label before purchasing an Echinacea product
Dr Cooperman says you have to ensure that the Echinacea you take has the right species and part of the plant. He says it’s best to opt for extract or tinctures than contain either Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia, which are the two best-studied species.
You should also choose extracts made from the above-ground (aerial) part of the plant, such as flowers, leaves and stems. You’ll find all of this information on the product’s label. Stay away from products that list Echinacea as part of a ‘blend’ or ‘proprietary formula’ without specifying the amount or type.
If you’re one of the millions of people who catch a cold every winter, make sure you add Echinacea to your medicine cabinet!
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