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Nutrient - Echinacea

(Echinacea purpurea)

By Nutri People

Echinacea is a very well-known traditional medicinal herb, used to relieve symptoms of the common cold and influenza type infections.  Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is also known as purple coneflower, due to its large, purple or dark pink petals that extend downwards away from the deep orange cone heads. Echinacea prefers dry, open woods and prairies, but will thrive in sunny, cultivated beds. 

The healing properties of this plant were known to the indigenous American Indian tribes. They used it as an antiseptic and analgesic and to treat poisonous bites, wounds, sore throats and diseases, such as smallpox and measles. Dr HCF Meyer passed on his knowledge to the Europeans sometime after 1870. Dr Madaus from Germany visited the US during the 1930s to collect samples of echinacea to study. He intended to collect E. angustifolia and came back with E. purpurea. His research resulted in a preparation of herb juice that is still available today. Like many medicinal herbs, echinacea fell out of favour with the advent of modern medicines. However, the last decade has seen it grow in popularity as a safe and powerful support for the immune system in the fight against colds, flu and other infections.

Overall, studies suggest that if echinacea is started as soon as symptoms develop, they seem to improve twice as quickly as when not taking echinacea. It acts by stimulating the production of white blood cells, whose job it is to fight infection. It also appears to enhance production of anti-viral substances called interferon, which may help surrounding cells stand up to viruses.

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