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Got the sniffles? Try Echinacea!

Cold and flu season is upon us! Great, so you’re at home, you have the sniffles, and your doctor can’t see you for a week or two. What can you do to help yourself in the meantime? One of the best natural, over the counter medicinal herbs that you can take is Echinacea. Maybe you’ve heard your doctor mention it before, or perhaps you’ve seen it sold in tea bags, lozenges, or other products. Is there any truth behind the hype? Actually, there is! Echinacea species, or purple coneflower, are an herbaceous plant in the daisy family. Echinacea was first used by Native Americans from the Sioux tribe centuries ago as a treatment for infections and colic, amongst other things. Today, it still remains on the national list of plant drugs within the US, and up until the 1940s it was produced and sold by mainstream pharmaceutical companies. So, what is it good for?

Echinacea is mainly used now for its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and antiviral/immunomodulatory effects in the body. Clinical studies have shown that taking Echinacea extract is effective for reducing both the symptoms and the duration of infection for the common cold. Treatment should begin at the first sign of symptoms, as it has been shown to be effective only early on. Studies also show that taking Echinacea extract may be helpful as a preventative for the common cold as well, although more in-depth studies are needed.

Dosage: For dried herb in capsule form: Take up to 3 grams/day of either E. augustifolia or E. purupurea. Treatment is usually started at the first sign of upper respiratory infection and continued for 10-14 days.

Fun fact: Did you know that alkylamides, which are chemical compounds found in Echinacea, are similar in structure to chemicals found in the cannabis plant? These chemicals link up with cannabinoid receptors on your cells. When activated, CB1 and CB2 receptors are believed to play an important role in various processes, including inflammation and pain. Who would have thought?

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