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Echinecea the Beautiful Purple Coneflower and it’s Uses.

What Is Echinecea?

Echinecea and its uses

Purple Coneflower

Taken from Hair Boutique.com (Health and wellness tip of the week)
At this time of year colds and influenza becomes a big concern.   Especially during the Holidays when people mingle in larger groups  than normal. Due to the economy, changes in health coverage and other  issues, more people are searching for alternative treatments  for minor health concerns such as colds and flu.
Echinacea has become more popular as an option. It’s often combined  with goldenseal as a herbal alternative for amping up the immune system  to block cold and flu viruses from taking hold. Used By Native Americans Echinacea angustifolia was widely used for its general medicinal qualities by the Native North Americans who lived in the Midwestern states.
Native Americans learned of E. angustifolia by observing elk seeking  out  the plants and consuming them when sick or wounded. They identified   those plants as elk root. Echinacea was one of the  basic antimicrobial herbs of eclectic  medicine from the mid 19th century  through the early 20th century. Its use was documented for snakebite, anthrax, and for relief of discomfort.  In the 1930s echinacea became popular in both Europe and America as a  herbal medicine. Echinacea Is A Flowering Plant Echinacea pronounced ek-i-NAY-sha is a genus of herbaceous flowering   plant in  the Asteraceae daisy family. It’s a popular alternative  herbal  style  of treatment believed by many to help with cold and  influenza   prevention and/or treatment. The  generic name Echinacea is rooted in a Greek word echinos,     meaning sea  urchin. It references the spiky appearance and feel of the     flower  heads. Echinacea plants reseed in the fall. New  flowers   will grow where seeds have fallen from the prior year. Echinacea still falls under the category of folk remedy. You should  always consult  with your primary health care provider  before  taking  any type of  herbs or alternative treatments. Species Of Echinacea It’s also known as the purple coneflower. It’s a North American plant  group with nine species, three of which are commonly believed to help  with cold and influenza prevention. Cold And Flu Properties
The three species valued for their cold and flu properties include: 1.  Echinacea angustifolia – Narrow-leaf Coneflower
2.  Echinacea pallida – Pale Purple Coneflower
3. Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower The  flowering plant is generally found in eastern and central North   America. It thrives in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. It   blooms from early to late Summer and is tolerant of drought   conditions. Does Echinacea Really Work? Many people swear by echinacea (or combination remedies) as their go-to herb for preventing or minimizing the impact of colds and flu attacks. Does it really work for everyone who takes it?  Absolutely not.
There is not one single remedy – prescription or alternative –   which works 100% for all people of all ages. There are a vast number of   variables which have to be considered for any type of remedy. The same   holds true for echinacea. While some users of alternative treatment  swear  by it, others find it doesn’t help them at all.
The truth of whether echinacea works or not, and who it works for, is   generally a matter of personal experience. I personally have been   taking echinacea or echinacea goldenseal formulations for close to 30   years. I believe it helps me when I am fighting off a cold or flu. But it definitely doesn’t help some of my family and   friends who’ve tried it. After much research I found the liquid capusules available from Gaia  Herbs work best for me.  Herbal teas or herbal pills have not proven to be as effective which confirms my opinion that everyone needs to do their own research, talk to their own health care professionals and make their own  decisions before taking any type of alternative treatment.
Note: We do not sell Gaia Herbs at HairBoutique.com <http://www.hairboutiquemedia.com/emailmarketer/link.php?M=13681&N=803&L=52&F=H> . I mention Gaia products because they work well for me and I have used them for many years. I am  sure other brands may work just as well, but I can not recommend any which  I have not personally tried. Not A One Dose Treatment Proponents  of echinacea assert it is not a “one-dose” treatment. In  order for echinacea to work effectively, a dose should be taken at the  very first  sign of cold symptoms.
Subsequent doses are called for every  two to  four hours after the first dose, including during the overnight   sleeping period, until the cold symptoms have disappeared. The several species of echinacea differ in their precise chemical   constitution, and may provide variable dosages of any active   ingredients. Be sure to read the suggested dosages contained on the product labels or follow instructions from your health care provider.
Possible Side Effects? Always consult with your primary care health consultant before taking echinacea to make sure you are not at risk for any side effects. When taken by mouth, echinacea does not usually cause side effects.   One of the most extensive and systematic studies to review the safety of   echinacea products concluded that overall “adverse events are rare,   mild and reversible” with the most common symptoms being   “gastrointestinal and skin-related.” Although rare, echinacea may cause nausea, abdominal cramps, loose bowels, itching and rash.  Nausea and abdominal discomofrt are more pronounced when the product is taken on an empty stomach. Echinacea has also been linked to rare   allergic reactions, including asthmatic attacks, shortness of breath, and one case   of anaphylaxis.
Muscle and joint aches has been associated with   echinacea, but it may have been caused by cold or flu symptoms for which   the echinacea products were administered. Isolated Cases Of Rare Side Effects There  are isolated case reports of very rare and idiosyncratic  reactions  including thrombocytopenic purpura, leucopenia, hepatitis,  renal  failure, and atrial fibrillation. It is not clear these reactions  were specifically due to echinacea and may have been part of a larger medical issue.
Experts have expressed concerns that by stimulating immune functions, echinacea   could potentially exacerbate autoimmune disease and/or decrease the effectiveness of immunosuppresive formulas, but this warning is based on theoretical considerations rather than human data. To date there have been no case reports of any interactions with   echinacea. The “currently available evidence suggests echinacea   is unlikely to pose serious health threats for patients combining it   with conventional formulas.” As a matter of manufacturing safety, one investigation by an   independent consumer testing laboratory found that five of eleven   selected retail echinacea products failed quality testing.
Four of the  failing products contained levels of phenols below the  potency level  stated on the labels. One was  contaminated with lead. Ultimately only select products which are known for their manufacturing safety and guality practices.
Scientific Reviews Multiple  scientific reviews, trials and meta-analyses have evaluated the   published peer reviewed literature on the immunological effects of echinacea. Reviews of the medicinal effects of echinacea are often  complicated  by the inclusion of a wide range of mixtures. Some formulas are based  solely upon echinacea while others are combinations. Also, some formulations are offered in higher potency or delivery  systems than others. Some use the roots versus other parts of the  plants and some are offered as extracts and expressed juice. There are also three of the nine species known to help with cold and  flu conditions and may be used alone or in combination with each other herbal ingredients.
Contradictory Claims Of Echinacea Effectiveness
Evaluation of the literature within the field generally suffers from a  lack of well-controlled trials, with many studies of lower quality. The results tend to be contradictory. Depending upon what studies you  read, echinacea works or it has no effect. A 2007 study by the University of Connecticut combined findings from  14 previously reported trials examining echinacea. The study concluded echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by more than half, and  shorten the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days. A  2003 controlled double-blind study from the University of Virginia  School of Medicine and documented in the New England Journal of Medicine  stated that echinacea extracts had “no clinically significant effects”  on rates of infection or duration or intensity of symptoms. The effects held when the herb was taken immediately following  infectious viral exposure and when taken as a prophylaxis starting a  week prior to exposure. An earlier University of Maryland review based on 13 European studies  concluded that echinacea, when taken at first sign of a cold, reduced  cold symptoms or shortened their duration. Use Of Expressed Juice And Similar The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) assessed the body of evidence on echinacea. The EMEA approved the use of expressed juice and dried expressed juice from  fresh flowering aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea for the short-term  prevention and treatment of the common cold. According to their recommendations: 1.  It should not be used for more than 10 days at a time
2.  Children under the age of one should not take it because they have immature immune systems
3.  It is generally not recommended for children between 1 and 12 years of age
4.  Echinacea is not recommended for use by pregnant women and during lactation  Echinacea As Immunostimulator
Echinacea is popularly believed to be an immunostimulator,  stimulating the body’s non-specific immune system and warding off  infections. It is also utilized as a laxative. A study commonly used  to support that belief is a 2007 meta-analysis in The Lancet Infectious  Diseases. The studies pooled in the meta-analysis used different types of  echinacea, different parts of the plant, and various dosages. This  review cannot inform recommendations on the efficacy of any particular  type of echinacea, dosage, or treatment regimen.
The safety of echinacea under long-term use is also unknown. History Of Echinacea Use
Echinacea angustifolia was widely used by the early Native Americans  for its general medicinal qualities. Echinacea was one of the basic  antimicrobial herbs of eclectic medicine from the mid 19th century  through the early 20th century. Its use was documented for  snakebite, anthrax, and for relief of aches. In the 1930s echinacea  became popular in both Europe and America as a herbal medicine. According to Wallace Sampson, MD, its modern day use as a treatment  for the common cold began when a Swiss herbal supplement maker was  “erroneously told” echinacea was used for cold prevention by Native  American tribes who lived in the area of South Dakota. Although  Native Americans didn’t use echinacea to prevent the common cold, some  Plains tribes did use echinacea to treat many of the symptoms which could  be caused by the common cold. The Kiowa used it for coughs and sore throats, the Cheyenne for sore  throats, the Pawnee for headaches, and many tribes including the Lakotah  used it as relief for congestion. Active Substances Like most crude formulas from plant or animal origin, the constituent  base for echinacea is complex, consisting of a wide variety of chemicals  of variable effect and potency. Some chemicals may be directly  antimicrobial, while others may work at stimulating or modulating  different parts of the immune system. All species have chemical compounds called phenols, which are common  to many other plants. Both the phenol compounds of cichoric and caftaric are present in E. purpurea. Other phenols include  echinacoside, which is found in greater levels within E. angustifolia  and E. pallida roots than in other species. When making herbal remedies, these phenols can serve as markers for  the quantity of raw echinacea in the product. Other chemical  constituents that may be important in echinacea health effects include  alkylamides and polysaccharides. Summary Does echinacea work to help boost the immune system and help block  cold and flu viruses from attacking? There is a lot of conflicting  opinions about the value of this herb. Ultimately you need to do your  own research, form your own opinions and always check with your primary care provider. Warning: Always consult your health care provider BEFORE you  undertake any new type of vitamin, mineral program or herbal program of  any type to make sure it does not interfere with any medical treatment  you may currently be on. References Foster, Steven, “Cold Comfort” Longevitiy Magazine, February 1996, 32
 Canlas J, Hudson JB, Sharma M, Nandan  D.,”Echinacea and trypanasomatid  parasite interactions: Growth-inhibitory and anti-inflammatory effects  of Echinacea”. Pharm Biol. 2010 Sep;48(9):1047-52 Image courtesy Haap Media, Ltd.