David J. Zeiger, D.O.

Echinacea, commonly called purple coneflower, is an herb seen on the shelves of your local health food store or pharmacy in the form of capsules, tinctures/extracts, and tablets. It is an amazing perennial that is native to midwestern North America. There are nine species of which E. augutifolia, E. purpura, and E. pallida are most commonly used in herbal preparations.

Echinacea has been extensively researched over the past 50 years in the U.S. and abroad. It has been found to possess immune enhancing as well as antibacterial and antiviral properties. Clinical studies have repeatedly demonstrated its usefulness in treating acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), herpes simplex, Candidiasis, and many of the viruses linked to the common cold/flu. But don’t rush out and buy yourself a bottle! As much as 50 percent of the commercial preparations of Echinacea sold in the U.S. are either adulterated with or are pure extracts of another herb, Parthenium Integrifolium. So consumers, be advised. Ask your supplier about documentation that the preparation they are using is indeed pure Echinacea (two reputable sources are Phytopharmica and Herb Pharm).

These are the forms most useful as a general immune stimulant before and/or during a bacterial/viral infection: Tincture 1:5 potency, juice extract of E. purpura stabilized in 22% ethanol standardized to 2.4% beta-1,2, fructofuranosides, and solid (dry powdered) extract 6.5:1 potency. There have been no reports of toxicity from Echinacea taken even for several months. For enhancing resistance before and during the cold/flu season, take 3/4 -1 teaspoon three times a day (approximately 8am-noon-bedtime) for 10-15 days. With more specific immune system problems, consult with your local holistic physician.

Page modified on 5/15/2011

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