La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor Discusses Echinacea: A Top Selling Herb in the US

 Echinacea brought in $16 million in the U.S. and was 8th most popular herb sold. It is a wonder why it didn’t make #1!  Most everyone knows of echinacea, common name of Purple Coneflower. There are two types, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea augustifolia with the roots and leaves being used.
     Echinacea contains large polysaccharide molecules called heteroglycans. This is where Echinacea gets its shining reports. There are many types of heteroglycans such as Echinacin A and B and Echinacein and these constituents have the immune stimulating properties that most people are looking for in echinacea. There are other flavonoids, essential oil, and allyamides that help stimulate the immune system as well. Echinacea promotes natural killer cells to do their job and immune cells that act like pac-man to virus, bacteria, cancer, and trash. Echinacea constituents are well studied and continue to fascinate us with modern day paintball and laser tag action.
     There are many forms of Echinacea. Germany alone has 40 different echinacea products. Echinacea is usually taken as tincture or pills and less often as tea, although tea is fine too. Widely used for common colds, sore throats and flus, it is also used routinely to prevent illness in those with a less active immune system such as cancer, chronic fatigue, chronic infection, and AIDS. Lesser known uses include for recurring boils, topical use, and as an antidote for snake bites by reducing the venom effects.
     Echinacea is quite safe even in higher doses, in children and for autoimmune patients. Side effects are well studied and very few reported. Unfortunately, Echinacea is disappearing from the wild since it has been over harvested and picked for floral arrangements. In my La Mesa Naturopathic Clinic I use a variety of botanicals in our herbal practice and always use clean products without the fillers.

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