Echinacea

Echinacea

Echinacea
Echinacea is an herbal treatment for colds and other infections, especially those of the upper respiratory system. Derived from the coneflower, echinacea is available in a variety of products – capsules, teas and lotions. As with any alternative medicines please consult your health provider for treatment, correct dosage, benefits and risk factors.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Echinacea is an herbal powder derived from the leaves and stems of the coneflower. A popular folk remedy, Echinacea is said to boost the body's natural immunity. Unfortunately, the very few studies on Echinacea, both in Germany and the United States, have produced mixed results. Some found an immune response, others found no effect. At this stage, we really don't have any proof as to whether it works. It may have gotten a bad rap in some studies because a contaminant that was found in some of the preparations of Echinacea did cause liver disease. People with allergies to plants in the sunflower family should steer clear of Echinacea, and those with autoimmune diseases will want to talk to their doctors before taking this herb. In general, Echinacea appears harmless. Do not take Echinacea for long periods; even fans of the herb recommend taking it for only a few weeks at a time, when cold or flu symptoms set in.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Come cold and flu season, we see hordes of patients taking echinacea to ward off a budding bug. An herbal powder derived from the leaves and stems of the coneflower, echinacea was a popular folk remedy, and some limited research suggests that it can boost the body's natural immunity.

    Unfortunately, the very few studies on echinacea in Germany and the United States have produced mixed results. Some found an immune system benefit, but others found no positive effect (and a few even hinted at negative ones). At this stage, we really don't have any proof as to whether it works or not. You might be better putting that $6 toward a piping hot bowl of chicken soup—which has been proven beneficial by scientific research and grandma.
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    A answered

    Echinacea includes several varieties of the daisy family, or coneflowers, all native plants of America. Some echinacea products are derived from the thickened, underground robot-like stem (rhizome) and roots of E. pallida. Most products are prepared from the aboveground plant, E. purpurea, which has become the more commonly cultivated and studied species.

    Research has shown that echinacea enhances the activities of immune cells and can be used for the supportive treatment of influenza-like infections.

    Echinacea is available in a variety of product types. For extracts of E. pallida prepared from dried roots, the recommended daily dose corresponds to 900 milligrams of herb. The recommended daily dose of E. purpurea capsules is one 500-milligram capsule, corresponding to six to nine milliliters of expressed juice. Use of echinacea products should not exceed eight weeks.

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    A Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of

    This commonly held belief seems to be more myth than fact.

    A study of over 700 individuals in the Annals of Internal Medicine failed to prove that the herb echinacea prevented getting a cold compared to those getting a placebo or no treatment. Results are mixed as to whether the herb can reduce the duration or the severity of cold symptoms. 

    A big problem with using echinacea is that the available supplements on the market vary greatly between the nine different types of the herb as well as the various parts of the plant used in the product. Some individuals may also experience side effects such as intestinal discomfort, rashes, increased asthma, and a life-threatening allergic reaction after consuming echinacea.

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    A answered

    The following cautions should be considered before using echinacea:

    Situations in which use of echinacea is not advised:
    Do not use echinacea (1) in the presence of progressive systemic disease, such as tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, immunodeficiency or autoimmune disorders or (2) in the presence of a known allergy to plants in the daisy (Asteraceae) family.

    Side effects:
    There are no known side effects of echinacea, with the possible exception of allergic responses.

    Drug interactions:
    There are no known interactions of echinacea with any drugs.

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    A , Family Medicine, answered
    Echinacea used in children or adults has been investigated in a significant number of studies and has not been shown to be effective in lessening cold symptoms or shortening the length of illness. There is some data to suggest that in some of the studies Echinacea had a significant benefit to reduce the incidence of viral infections when taken ongoing through the whole winter, but this result was not consistent among all the better quality larger studies. So this potential benefit may be less than reported.

    Certainly, Echinacea is not a major cornerstone of improving immunity against infections, but can be used preventively through the winter cold and flu season.
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