Winter may be over, but you're still looking to keep yourself healthy and avoid getting sick. You want to take something that's going to boost your immune system and help it work optimally.
You do have many choices both herbally and medicinally, but echinacea should not be one of them. This herb is probably one of the best for your immune system, but it's just not something you can take every day. In fact, if you do take it every day, chances are you'll get sick faster.
Just What Is Echinacea & What Is It Doing For You?
Echinacea is the scientific name for the purple coneflower, a perennial flower that blooms all summer. We use the root, dug up from plants about three years old, and then ground up as a supplement.
There's a wide variety of studies that show echinacea both works and does not work. And it's hard to determine exactly what it does. This herb is very dependent on dose and whether somebody is using the root or the plant. Only certain type of extracts works.
The medical community generally believes it helps increase the white blood cells in your body. In several reviews of various studies, using echinacea was more effective than a placebo at helping to prevent respiratory infections. It helped reduce the common cold by 50% and reduced the duration of the symptoms by nearly a day and a half.
Too Much – What Happens When You Take Too Much Echinacea
You may start thinking it would be great to take echinacea regularly, hoping to prevent coughs and colds, especially respiratory viruses, the common cold, and the flu. These are all virus-specific.
It's one of the reasons sales went through the roof at the start of the COVID crisis because some tentative studies show that echinacea can reduce the symptoms of the coronavirus. However, there hasn't been enough time to reproduce those studies to verify the results.
All of these studies have in common that they are all short-term uses of echinacea. Traditional herbal medicine only applies echinacea at the start of illnesses, as soon as people start feeling sick. The same is true with the majority of the studies, echinacea is given at the first sign of symptoms.
This is where many reviewers and scientists find the discrepancy of whether it works or not. Echinacea stimulates the immune system, helping it to produce more antibodies. Although this is good in the short term, in the long-term, usually a couple of weeks or more, the overstimulation weakens the immune system. Your immune system turns and begins attacking the body or creates a systemic failure.
Echinacea can mimic an autoimmune disorder or cause your immune system to stop working altogether.
How To Properly Use Echinacea To Boost Your Immune System
Having a bottle of echinacea supplements in your cabinet is great to help you with coughs and colds. Particularly if you've been around somebody with a respiratory virus, short-term use of echinacea is helpful. Here's how to look at it.
If you start feeling a tickle in your throat, a little bit of heaviness in your chest, or any other physical sign that you're starting to get sick, start taking the recommended dose of echinacea as found on your supplement. We can't give you a specific amount here because different manufacturers put different concentrations in their supplements.
Don't take more than the recommended dose because it's not going to do anything more for you, and it could cause other health issues.
Now, if you know you've been around somebody who has a respiratory virus, such as a young child, the elderly, or been in the hospital, taking echinacea for 24 hours as recommended can help give your immune system a boost. This short time frame gives you lasting benefits over a couple of days, which can help reduce your chances of catching the virus.
One of the best ways of keeping your immune system strong is to focus on a diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise. This helps your body be strong and gives your immune system the best chance of fighting off the cold, flu, and other viruses on its own.