What is it?
The extract of Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia--whole plant; the above ground extract of Echinacea purpurea is preferred because it has been better studied (with over 300 studies to its credit!). It is commonly called "purple coneflower", and is related to the sunflower.

What is it used for?
As a broad-spectrum immune system stimulant in the cold and flu season and in the treatment of chronic recurring vaginal yeast infections.

What's in it and how does it work?
The ability of Echinacea to stimulate the immune system is extremely well documented. The primary constituent responsible for its activity are large sugar molecules called polysaccharides. Two in particular have been identified as beneficial: insulin and arabinogalactin. These polysaccharides activate the immune system in so many ways that a thorough discussion of them would quickly lose the reader in a sea of medical terms. For example, Echinacea has been shown to increase production of T cells, increase levels of circulating neutrophils, improve leukocyte phagocytosis, assist antibody binding and natural killer cell activity. It also has direct antibacterial properties. In general, Echinacea has been thoroughly demonstrated to reduce the duration and severity of common cold and flu symptoms. This is an herb that deserves a space in your medicine cabinet.

How should I use it?
One recent study showed that a daily intake of 450mg had no value over that of a placebo, but 900mg daily was quite effective in staving off cold and flu symptoms. This being the case, it is recommended that 1g (1000mg) be taken 3 times daily at the onset of cold or flu symptoms.

Are there any safety issues with echinacea?
Echinacea is among the safest of herbal preparations and certainly among the most popular (it's the flower we chose to appear on our logo); it was prescribed in Germany 2.5 million times in 1994! However, do not take Echinacea for more than 8 weeks in a row. You may resume after a two week break. The most common time to take it is at the start of the cold and flu season and right at the onset of illness.

The information on these pages were derived from medical, nutritional and media publications. It is not intended for medical or nutritional claims, but for informational and educational purposes. Please consult your doctor before consideration of the use of supplementation. These supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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