Echinacea – Does It Really Clear Colds?
Let’s Look At The Health Benefits and Side Effects
I came across Echinacea for the first time in 2011. I was consulting over the phone with one of my clients and I started to get the sniffles. As much as I tried to hide it, she noticed and asked me if I had a sinus problem. I apologised to her and told her that I did have a bit of a problem, but it comes and goes.
She preceded to tell me that she had the same problem with her sinuses and that it got so bad at one point, the only way to stop her nose from becoming permanently blocked was to have an operation to clear her nasal passage.
I told her I didn’t think mine was that bad, but I was sick of all these nasal sprays that only worked sometimes. She agreed, then asked me if I’d heard of Echinacea. Of course at that point I hadn’t, but it was to be the beginning of an on and off affair with yet another natural herbal remedy.
The Origins Of Echinacea
Echinacea originally comes from North America. It goes way back 400 years ago when the native indians used it’s leaves, roots and flowers for medicinal purposes. It is known as a a perennial plant that lasts for years upon years.
It is said that Echinacea stimulates the immune system and helps reduce the symptoms of various ailments, including colds and influenza.
Craig Coleman, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and lead author of the study published in the journal of Infectious Diseases at the University of Connecticut conducted a study that analysed 14 studies on the effects of Echinacea, and concluded that:
- Echinacea reduces the chances of catching a cold by 58%.
- Echinacea cuts the length of a cold by almost 36 hours.
He summarised that, “The take home message from our study is that Echinacea does indeed have powerful cold prevention and cold treatment benefits.” He also stated, “As I’ve discovered, it’s one of several effective natural cold remedies”.
Benefits of Using Echinacea
There are so many that come from using Echinacea responsibly that can be mentioned all in one go. However here are a few.
- Echinacea is a known as an analgesic for various pains including headaches, stomach aches and tooth aches. It was actually used by the American Indians as a painkiller when it was first discovered.
- Echinacea is effective for constipation sufferers. It has a mild laxative effect that gives ultimate relief.
- Native american tribes used Echinacea 400 years ago, and it is still being used today to fight various skin ailments including eczema, inflammations, psoriasis and wounds that take a while to heal.
- Echinacea has commonly known to help upper respiratory ailments, such as the common cold, sinusitis. diptheria, various types of flu, and more.
- For people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Echinacea makes it a lot easier to deal with because of it’s anti inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
- There have been some studies done on it’s effectiveness in combatting certain cancers
Side Effects Of Echinacea
As with any medication, overdoses can have adverse effects. High intake of Echinacea over a short period of time can lead to nausea and headaches.
Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctors before taking Echinacea. If you are taking prescription medication, consult your doctor before taking Echinacea.
Common Ways To Ingest Echinacea
Based on my experience, there are three ways to take Echinacea.
I use the capsule form because I find them easier to swallow, but you may prefer the tablets. I can also carry some around with me when I’m on the go. It’s usually best taken after a meal.
- Herbal Teas
If you prefer to drink it as a herbal liquid formula there are online and offline outlets that sell packets or boxes of sachets that you can buy. This is best taken when your in a relaxed mood, so you can slowly and gently ingest the tea, warm, hot or cool. They can also come in different flavours.
- Liquid Extracts
The extract you can get as a tincture. It ranges from about 1 – 4 fluid ounces per bottle. Just place a few drops in your mouth. I prefer to place them under my tongue. It works wonders when you feel the onset of a cold or flu. A few drops a day keeps the doctor away.
What Others Say About Echinacea
|This tea is very good, especially when you have a cold! My grocery store doesn’t carry Echinacea tea for some reason, and I was very happy to find it at Amazon. It was delivered earlier than expected too. Thank you! Cookie|
|I love this product and have been buying it for years. It’s a good product to have on hand before traveling on a plane to guard against colds, flu’s, etc. I always travel with it. I start taking it about a week before leaving on vacation. Use it along the way during also. Denise. F. Johnson|
|On three different occasions I’ve had my husband and another visiting family member get extremely ill (common cold, URI, flu etc). From the onset of their symptoms I began taking the supplement twice a day for a week or so and never got more than a sniffle when they were so deathly ill. Something in this actually works. I’m normally the one who gets dog sick b/c someone sneezed near me, so the fact most of my family was so sick and I never had more than a slight runny nose speaks volumes to me. The Phantom|
|Whenever I catch a virus my first symptom is a sore throat. So, I started taking one Echinacea capsule plus a vitamin C pill twice a day till it goes away, and have never gotten sick since. If I take this regimine too late and the cold progresses, then I start taking Zinc throat candies; this keeps the virus in check and all I feel is a runny nose. I’ve read that the above only works for some people, and either to some degree or not at all for others. So, I guess you just have to try it and see if you’re one or not. minimalist|
I’ve used it on several occasions, but the worst scenario I found myself in was when I went to Spain to spend Christmas with a friend. On the last day of my stay, I caught a chesty cough. I thought nothing of it, but it became very persistent. Each time I coughed I could feel the pain in my chest.
I managed to get home safely, but the flight back was so embarrassing. I could not stop coughing and spluttering. The guy sitting next to me seemed concerned and suggested I get one of those miniature gin or whisky bottles they sell on the flights. I did, and that helped a little bit.
It was about 2am by the time I got home. I knew I had a bottle of Echinacea capsules tucked away somewhere. I found it after what felt like endless rummaging. I popped two in my mouth with a sip of water and crawled into bed. The next morning I noticed I hadn’t been woken up by bouts of coughing. I took another dose of two in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two in the evening.
By the third day, my cough had gone, but I still took one a day, twice a day for a couple more days, just to be sure. That was enough proof for me that Echinacea does work effectively for coughs, cold and various viral ailments. It worked better for me than any other cold medication I’ve used in the past, and I continue to use it whenever needed.
Whether you know or do not know about Echinacea, I’d be interested to know your thoughts.