This photo of a purple coneflower was taken over a year ago before I even realized it was Echinacea! Often times, we have medicinal plants growing all around us, and we are completely unaware. Therefore, I wanted to highlight some of the herbs you may see around or that may pop up in your supplements. I’ll let you know what they are, what they’re good for, and anything you should consider when taking them!
What is Echinacea?
Echinacea is a wildflower native exclusively to North America, and Indians used it therapeutically more than any other herb. In 1895, an Ohio drug firm manufactured the first preparations of Echinacea in the US, and by 1994, German physicians had prescribed Echinacea over 2.5 million times. To this day, it remains popular in Europe, and is used most to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu.
What is it good for?
Echinacea is one of the most studied herbs in herbal medicine and it has shown many effects on the immune system. It increases antibody responses to viruses and it signals to WBCs to fight infection. This is a great tool to take when you feel as though you may be coming down with something, but it’s not that great for prevention. So, look for Echinacea to use short-term during cold season.
Autoimmunity: Echinacea boosts the immune system and unfortunately, in today’s world, there are many people that suffer from autoimmune conditions. These people have an over-activated immune system and should be careful using herbal remedies that boost immune activity, such as Echinacea. These patients would do better using beta-glucans instead.
Medications: Echinacea can have an effect on liver enzymes and increase blood levels of certain medications including statins, allergy medications, and birth control. Like I have mentioned before, herbs can work just as well as medications and therefore can react with medications or affect their ability to work properly. The more you can rely on herbs PRIOR to using medications, the less interactions you have to worry about.
*This is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions. Please consult with a knowledgeable physician to decide it is right for you.