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Echinacea, (ECK-in-ay-sha), a member of the daisy family, is also known as purple cone-flower. Popular worldwide as an immunity enhancer. Of the many species of echinacea, the most commobnly-used varieties in herbal formulations are Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallidia, and E. purpurea. Studies have shown differences in the immunomodulatory effects of different species, but it's not clear which is species produces the greatest overall effect or under what circumstances.1 No significant difference has been found Commercial formulations utilize any combination of parts of the plant, including the flowers, stems, roots and leaves. Echinacea is often combined with goldenseal in herbal formulas.
Echinacea has been shown to help boost immune system response and increase cell production of the anti-viral substance interferon. Studies suggest that using Echinacea regularly over several weeks decreases one's susceptibility to cold and flu infections, and helps shorten the duration/intensity of an existing bout with cold or flu.
Dosages vary based on reason for use. Follow manufacturer's directions. Echinacea is available in tablet, capsule, softgel, liquid, and dried herb (tea) forms. It is recommended that one follow a schedule of 8 weeks on, 1 week off when using the herb in order to maximize effectiveness.
Individuals allergic to flowers in the daisy family should not use Echinacea.
1. Econ Bot. 2006 Sep;60(3):205-211.