Welcome to the final installment of my Immune Hacks series! Today we will take a look at another of my favorite herbs. I love echinacea so much because it is incredibly versatile, safe, and effective. I am always amazed when I realize how many bases it covers and with such finesse.
Echinacea is best suited to use as a maintenance or preventative immune system tonic. It is an anti-inflammatory herb and a good choice for daily immune support. Echinacea can also be useful in the treatment of infections, particularly those of the upper and lower respiratory tract, skin, GI and urinary tract, oral cavity, and some systemic infections. While this is true, prevention is where echinacea really shines in research studies. This is because it strongly supports your innate immune response so that you are better prepared to fight off the virus that your kid will bring home from school next week (among other examples!).
The reason that echinacea is so versatile is because it is an immune modulator. This means that if you need your immune system fired up, it does that. Conversely, if you need to tone things down, echinacea is your herb for that as well. Essentially, it brings things back into natural balance. This is why it is my go-to herb for overall immune support! Most individuals would benefit from a daily dose of echinacea.
As we have discussed in previous posts, sourcing matters! Echinacea is an attractive flowering plant in the daisy family (see the attached photo). It should be noted that there are multiple varieties of echinacea. The best results will be found through the use of both Echinacea augustifolia and Echinacea purpurea in a formulation with a defined amount of alkylamides (the active component). It is also important to note that we are talking about the root of the plant not the leaves or other aerial parts. You should not take echinacea if you are allergic to plants in the daisy family or are prescribed long-term immunosuppressive medications.
This is a link to my favorite formulation: Medi-Herb Echinacea Premium. Here you will find a quality product that you can trust. Again, do not take this without running it by your personal medical provider. If they approve, one tablet twice daily is a great preventative dosage of echinacea.
That wraps up this four-part series on Immune Hacks! There is so much more to say, and I plan to address that in future blog posts. In particular, the connection between immune and gut health is fascinating and important to understand. For now, though, we have covered basic immune strengthening, nutrition and supplementation, as well as key herbs Andrographis and Echinacea. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to reach out here. Be well!