Need an Immunity Boost? Echinacea!

September 26, 2012

It’s around that time of the year when you really need get your guard up and prevent common colds and the flu. We’re transitioning into the fall season, and if you live on the East Coast of the United States then you can attest to the recent abrupt changes in weather from extremely humid to sudden very chilly nights and moderate day time temperatures. Needless to say it’s a great time of year to turn our natural healing abilities all the way on. So the past week has been quite a struggle for me. It started with a scratchy throat and feeling fatigue and it progressed into a sore throat. Then I completely lost my voice! I was definitely not stoked about that at all  since I was scheduled to do a short presentation on nutrition for kids to welcome to them to the Kids Day at a local farmers market that same day….FAIL!  It’s very rare that I actually get sick so given my symptoms I had to tap into my memory bank and pull out of my arsenal one superb herb which was just what the natural doctor ordered: echinacea! I swear, I took echinacea for the first time this season last night (I had to, I was sounding so terribly hoarse and feeling horrible) and I literally woke up this morning feeling like a million bucks, with voice intact and immunity boosted up.

Echinacea is an herb which is native to North America and has been used for over 400 years to treat all sorts of immune system issues and other infections internally and externally as an overall “cure-all” plant. This herb has historically been used to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, and diphtheria. However, in the 18th and 19th Century, echinacea use greatly declined after the introduction of antibiotics. There are nine species of echinacea but those that are most frequently used for therapeutic purposes are: echinacea angustifolia, echinacea pallida, and echinacea purpurea. Echinacea (of all species) is available in extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules, and ointments. I usually drink it as a tea which you can find in your local health food store, or possibly even supermarket. Echinacea purpera is believed to be the most effective form of the herb.

Echinacea is like that friend you can count on when it gets down to the wire and you already went through all your contacts and absolutely NEED them to come through. Yes, it is there for you when you most need it by stimulating the immune system giving powerful results in a short period of time. It’s great for battling the onset of a cold, a sore throat, flu, etc. This brings me to an important side note: DO NOT take Echinacea for longer than 10 days at a time; the herb is so powerful and effective in boosting your immunity and giving fast results that if you take it too much it can actually weaken your immune response. Basically it gives the bugs too much time to evolve and adapt to your kick but echinacea attacks, so fall back before you give away your secret weapon.

Taking echinacea as soon as you feel a cold coming on from my experience can actually stop the symptoms from progressing to full out sickness, and if you take it while you are sick, clinical studies have shown that it can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms versus a control group who didn’t take it. Echinacea contains powerful substances which make it so useful and effective. These include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids. These substances work together to increase the number of white blood cells, and boosts the activity of other immune cells. Echinacea is a go-to herb in treating cold, flu, and throat symptoms, but it can also be used externally to treat wounds and skin issues such as boils, rashes, and acne. Believe me, this stuff works! Remember, nature, is always our best medicine cabinet. Check echinacea out for yourself, and tell your friends and family about it too. – XoXo Nicola, Signing in for Raw Girl


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