Colds and Flu, Immune Deficiency, Infections (viral and bacterial)
Echinacea is famous as an immune builder for immune deficiency and can stop an acute oncoming cold, flu, or infection if used in large doses at the first sign of immune breakdown. Eighteen studies outlined in The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs show positive effects for indications for cold, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, candidiasis, and gestational safety. The larger acute doses below will commonly ward off oncoming acute bacterial and viral infections (i.e. colds and flu). Echinacea will excite the immune system to fight off microbes before they dominate an organ system and create symptoms or pathology. If on the edge of getting sick, one must take the large frequent doses for 12-24 hours to realize the full acute benefit. As a long-term tonic, it can be used as an immune booster for those with immune deficiency (i.e. chronic colds, flu, bacterial infections, slow healers, HIV, bedsores, chemotherapy). Echinacea will help to rebuild a healthy immune response. It combines well with Astragalus. Eventually, one will not need Echinacea if they maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Contrary to the popular myth, Echinacea is safe for long term use and will not decrease immune response over time. That myth was a misinterpretation of a study done about 40 years ago. For those who get sick every cold and flu season, begin using a moderate dose of Echinacea 1-2 months before the cold and flu season begins. This can prevent getting sick. If someone in the family is sick, give Echinacea to the other family members to prevent their catching of the virus.
Echinacea stimulates phagocytosis by human neutrophils (munching of white blood cells=WBC) to help clean up foreign bodies and will increase the number of
WBC. It prevents and reverses necrosis (tissue degradation where pus forms from infection) from wounds by promoting tissue regeneration and reducing inflammation by inhibiting hyaluronidase production. Echinacea does not kill microbes by itself but will stimulate one's immune function to do it. It re-establishes healthy innate immune response. Echinacea stimulates NK cell action and induces cytokine production. Many compounds in Echinacea are found to be immuno-stimulating in different ways and the full spectrum extract may be the most effective product. Activity is found in its' polysaccharides, phenols, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives (cichoric acid, echinacoside, chlorogenic acid), and alkyl amides.