Herbal extracts and ancient medical treatments date back centuries. Herbalists over the years have used a variety of plants and plant extracts as part of their potions and natural cures.
Echinacea is another plant extract believed to have properties to help reduce your chances of getting the common cold and assist as a natural antibiotic.
The Echinacea plant or Cone flower comes from a plant genus of at least nine known species from the Asteraceae family. Echinacea is indigenous to northern and central America regions and named by ancient Greek cultures for its spiny center plume. The flowers of the Echinacea plant bloom throughout the summer and present a beautiful array of yellow and/or purple shades and cone sizes, thus giving it the alias of Cone flower.
The Echinacea plant is believed to simulate the body’s natural immune system and serves as booster against infections and other bacterial conditions. Throughout history the Echinacea plant and extracts have document antibacterial usages for poisonous snakebites, pain, fever and anthrax in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Echinacea and the Common Cold
It wasn’t until early 1960s that Echinacea was used to prevent the common cold. Echinacea extract is also used by ancient and modern herbalist as an anti-inflammatory agent as well as an antibiotic for urinary tract, Yeast and Ear Infections. Other non proven treatments include Hay fever, Athletics foot fungal and sinusitis.
It is believed that extract from Echinacea prolongs the onset of a common cold and shortens the period affected by the cold. In recent studies that tested the effectiveness of Echinacea on common colds revealed that subjects given a dosage of Echinacea prior to the onset of a cold did not show symptoms of a cold for at least 1 ½ days after those subjects who were exposed to the cold and not given Echinacea.
The prolonged onset of the cold was merely the first part of the research since those who showed signs of the cold later express that the symptoms where not as intense and only lasted a few days, where as subjects who did not receive the Echinacea treatment experienced longer duration of the cold and suffered higher levels of intensity in symptoms.
While these studies are highly disputed by the medical industry since there are non conclusive findings which definitively show the effectiveness of any one Echinacea plant to another or in combination of plants.
Even with studies which showed taking Echinacea as a prophylaxis prior to exposure to infections determined the effects, symptoms and intensity where cut down by nearly half. Skeptics on the other hand feel that more studies are needed in a controlled setting which uses multiple extract types of Echinacea at controlled dosages may provide a fertile environment for conclusive finding.
Echinacea comes in a variety of forms; however each form is made up of at least two species of Echinacea plants and in some cases at least three types of the more highly potent species.
Echinacea extract can be taken in capsules or tablets, teas, oils, and ointments and come in dosages of depending on age and weight. Echinacea can be given to children by measurement of adult dosages based upon the child’s weight. Adults can take up to three dosages daily as a prophylaxis and immunity stimulator or as treatment for UTI’s or Yeast Infections of no more than 300mg in powder form, 1-2gram of tea form and 1 -3ml of extract tincture or liquids.
Because certain side effects such as allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and asthma attacks may occur. Aside from know adverse affects other drug interaction complication may be present if taking specific medications, therefore it is highly recommended to consult a physician before use and if symptoms are present stop taken the extract immediately.