Many of the herbal supplements and remedies that have come into popular use in the United States were first discovered and/ or developed in the 1800’s, when the herbalism of the Pilgrims met with the botanical knowledge of the Native Americans. It is the Plains Indians whom we must thank for introducing us to Echinacea pupurea, the best selling herbal medicine in the U.S. between the years 1995 and 1997. Today, Echinacea is renowned for its ability to enhance our immune systems. Folklore long attested to its powers in this regard, but even modern science has confirmed the value of taking it for colds, the flu, and respiratory infections. Echinacea may even provide potent treatment for systemic Candida infections.
Physicians, naturopaths, and qualified herbal practitioners agree that the best schedule for the use of Echinacea, either as a preventative or a cure, consists of taking small doses every few hours for a maximum of 6-8 weeks, discontinuing use at that time for at least two weeks. Taken in such a way, Echinacea has proven to be both safe and effective, reducing one’s susceptibility to infections, decreasing the incidence of colds, and strengthening immunity overall.
Hereafter will be described the typical preparations and dosages for Echinacea. Take any one of the following three times a day: 0.5-1 gram of dried root, or a cup of tea made from the same amount; 325-650 milligrams of the freeze-dried plant; 1-2 ml of Echinacea purpurea juice in 22 percent ethanol alcohol (this is the “tincture form” often found in health food stores). Though modern research still has a ways to go in establishing the real work that this herb does within the body, common practice encourages taking Echinacea when you feel the first signs of a cold or flu. Many people believe that it is much more beneficial as a preventitive rather than a cure to an illness already in progress.
People with HIV and AIDS are strongly discouraged from using Echinacea, as it may promote the replication of T-cells, which is where the HIV virus resides. Its use in patients with autoimmune disease, tuberculosis, leucosis, collagenosis, and multiple sclerosis is also cautioned against.
One drawback of alternative medicine has long been the inconsistency in strength and efficacy of various herbs. Indeed, it is estimated that more than half the Echinacea sold in the United States during the last century was actually Parthenium integrifolium and not Echinacea at all. Modern standardizing (and the lifting of FDA restrictions) has done much to remedy this situation. Still, it’s always best to purchase Echinacea, in whatever form, from a reputable supplier.