Orginally from North America, this particular echinacea plant was photographed in the beautiful walled garden in Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Echinacea has a pink delicate daisy like flower and interestingly all parts of the plant have been used to make herbal medicine. Prior to the advent of antibiotics, echinacea was seen as an effective antiviral and immune stimulant and it has an interesting history being used for everything from coughs and sore throats to eye infections, snakebites and venereal disease.
Today, echinacea is still popular and for many it is seen as a 'must have' for their winter medicine cabinet. As far as the scientific community is concerned, echinacae is one of the most well studied herbs out there and even some family doctors recommend it for its prophylactic benefits! ITV's 'This Morning Dr Chris Steele has said ..
There is research showing that Echinacea does reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms of the common cold and influenza - as do other herbal remedies, such as Pelargonium. The difference between the two is that Pelargonium is suitable for adults and children (aged 6+) with asthma and other vulnerable groups, whereas Echinacea is not recommended if you have asthma. Dr. Chris Steele
A 2014 Cochrane review of 24 trials found a 'consistently positive' benefit from taking echinacea as a preventative measure. Another meta-analysis published in the Journal of Advances in Therapy 2015, demonstrated a significant benefit from taking echinacea as a prevention for repeated respiratory infections in 'at risk' groups among children, adults and older adults and concluded that...
Evidence indicates that echinacea potently lowers the risk of recurrent respiratory infections and complications thereof. Immune modulatory, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects might contribute to the observed clinical benefits, which appear strongest in susceptible individuals. Schapowal, A et al.
As a family we first started taking echinacea 26 years ago and we have recommended it so many times over the years. It's definitely something we wouldn't be without!
If you are finding that your immune system is a bit compromised generally and you are prone to infections, there may be other factors to consider e.g. making sure you have adequate amounts of Vitamin C, Zinc and also considering stress levels as stress can leave us compromised more than we realise. For this reason adaptogen herbs can be invaluable as they not only modulate cortisol but also immune function. Vitamin D is another important nutrient for immune health and it's typically at the end of the winter that our levels are lowest making us a bit more vulnerable. If you would like to check your vitamin D levels and optimise your dose, we offer a simple pin prick test which goes off to an NHS lab so do get in touch if you'd like to take advantage of that and get your levels optimised. Because our immune systems are located primarily in the gut, we also need to be thinking about probiotics and topping up on our good bacteria to ensure a more robust immune system. To read more on the power of probiotics check out our article here
Of course, taking supplements is not the only thing to consider if you have a history of immune problems. The best way to do this would be to book an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist who will take a lengthy case history and may recommend further testing to get to the bottom of your particular health problems. It could be that both diet and lifestyle choices could unwittingly be contributing towards repeated health challenges. It is hugely rewarding both as practitioner and client to uncover a few of those obstacles that may be hiding in the shadows if we did but know!
Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease. Hippocrates
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