Learn how you can evade cold season this year with Echinacea!
Get the run down on the mighty powers of Echinacea from guest blogger and webber naturals expert, Wendy Tao, BSc.
Nearly everybody who has ever used medicinal herbs to treat a cold has heard of Echinacea, also known as "purple coneflower." With its bright pinky purple flowers, Echinacea has long been a favourite herbal remedy due to its immune-boosting capacity. When harvested and processed properly, the natural compounds in Echinacea can lessen the duration and severity of cold symptoms. And who doesn't want that!
A little history on Echinacea:
During 1885 to 1921, the Eclectic physicians would prescribe Echinacea for everything from abscesses, cholera, eczema, fevers, indigestion, leg ulcers, malaria, mastitis, psoriasis, respiratory congestion, syphilis, tetanus, tonsillitis, wasp sting, to snake bites! Specifically, regarding the use of Echinacea for syphilis, Ellingwood once wrote: “The longest time of all cases yet reported, needed to perfect the cure, was nine months.” Which begs the question, why are we not using this wonderful herb more often?
More importantly, however, as some people discover that different Echinacea products may vary, why don't all Echinacea extracts work the same? The answer is that there are a multitude of Echinacea-based cold products out there and they all use different species, different plant parts and vastly diverse manufacturing methods. No standard procedure has been made regarding which phytochemicals, plant compounds, are to be used, nor is there a standard amount of each compound that must be used in order for Echinacea to provide health benefits. However, since the beginning of the last century, Canadian researchers and European experts have studied Echinacea (E. purpurea) in both laboratory and clinical trials to develop effective standards for Echinacea extracts.
Active components in Echinacea:
Polysaccharides (PS) in Echinacea have received research attention as active components because purified polysaccharides, prepared from cultures of E. purpurea, were shown to strongly activate macrophages, the white blood cells that engulf and digest bacteria and viruses. The polysaccharides stimulated white blood cell activity in spleen and bone marrow, causing the body to create increased defenses against infections.
Another active component in E. purpurea is alkylamides. Herbalists usually consider the tingling in the tongue, when taking the tincture orally, as an indicator of good quality and attribute it to the alkylamides. Alkylamides exert anti-inflammatory effects and bind to certain receptors in the body that are believed to modulate immune function.
Other studies demonstrate that bioactive constituents found in Echinacea purpurea, including alkylamides, polysaccharides and cichoric acid all support the immune system, and have a synergistic effect; they work better when all three are present. By standardizing extracts of Echinacea purpurea to ensure adequate levels of these bioactive ingredients, consistent immune enhancement is possible. These natural compounds stimulate macrophages and enhance production of the body's natural "killer cells."
So, don’t let a nasty cold get you down this season! Get immune support with Echinacea that contains all three of the plant's active therapeutic components, including alkylamides, polysaccharides and cichoric acid. And, even better, sound like a scientist when you tell your friends the reasons why they should try Echinacea!
- Bone K. Immunity: The New Priority for the Modern Patient. BCNA Conference 2012.
- Echinace - Monograph. www.webbernaturals.com
- Ellingwood F, Lloyd JU. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. 11th Edn. Naturopathic Medical Series: Botanical Volume 2. First published 1898, reprinted Eclectic Medical Publications, Portland, 1983.
- Snow, JM. Echinacea (Moench) Spp. The Protocol Journal of Botanical Medicine, Vol 2, No. 2: 18-24.