Date: Sat, 24 Jun 1995 04:32:11 -0400
Subject: Echinacea answers
Chris asked about the wonders of Echinacea, and the ease of growing it. Echinacea IS a wonderful herb. I have used it to stop colds dead in their tracks. Our family takes Echinacea (tincture form for the children, and capsule and tincture form for adults depending on what we may have been exposed to as the tincture form seems to be stronger) routinely from September through May, and seldom do we get sick. If we do pick up a bug, I increase our dosage, and it greatly lessens the severity of the bug. It has wonderful immune system boosting qualities.
Echinacea grows wild here (in midwestern USA), and I am growing it for the first time this year. It requires little care, and thrives in all kinds of conditions. I normally have a brown thumb, but have had no trouble with this herb.
From: Colette Gardiner <coletteg.EFN.ORG>
> Our family takes Echinacea ... routinely from September through May
Although I know that many people use Echinacea continously to avoid catching things I personally feel that Echinacea is abit more of a immune stimulant than a immune booster at least with long term use. That may seem like a subtle difference to some, but what that translates into, for me is that I think of Echinacea as a surface acting secretion stimulator not a builder of deeper levels of immunity which I feel is better obtained thru use of mild tonics keyed to weak points in the individuals constitution. I like to save Echinacea for those emergency times, or perhaps when you've been exposed to something serious.
From: Deb Phillips <ARmidwife.AOL.COM>
I agree that Echinacea should be used only when exposed to a virus. Garlic on the otherhand can be used continuously to boost the immune system.
From: Colette Gardiner <coletteg.EFN.ORG>
Roy Collins wrote:
> Echinacea (E.purpurea & related species) leaves and root have been confirmed in research and numerous clinical studies (Germany) as being antibacterial, antiviral and the strengthening of the immune system, especially for colds and flu. As you correctly surmised, E should not be taken for more than 5 days in a row as it will lose effectiveness. According to Tismal Crow (Hitchiti tribe) "disease eventually finds a way around Echinacea." I find that the use of most herbs should only be used for specific problems and discourage long term treatment. I'm sure there will be a few comments that contradict my views, so keep on reading :-)
There was arecent article I saw that said the phagocytosis effect of echinacea was not diminished after ten days as had been previously believed, however I still believe and in fact I have found Echinacea to be useful for longer periods of time if the condition warrants it's continued use and I also agree as my previous post stated that Echinacea is best saved for emergencies not daily use.
From: Paul Bergner <bergner.TELEPORT.COM>
> I find that the use of most herbs should only be used for specific problems and discourage long term treatment. I'm sure there will be a few comments that contradict my views,
I will agree with your views wholeheartedly, especially about echinacea. People in the U.S. are taking it like candy, and do not know what they are getting into. Echinacea was used by the Native Americans, from whom we learned its use, for acute conditions -- that's short term. It was used this way by the Eclectic medical system of a hundred years ago, and also to clear up chronic infections. The idea of taking it long term is new, and the result of general public ignorance of herbal principles.
Echinacea -stimulates- the immune system, just like coffee -stimulates- the energy systems in the body. It is subject to the same kind of repercussions as any other stimulant abuse, although the pay back may come slower. Contrary to rumor, it does -not- lose its strength after five days. that rumor originated with a German scientific trial showing a nice bell curve with echinacea's power to stimulate the action fo the white cells declining after day five. However -they stopped giving the echinacea on day five-! Even five days after stopping the echinacea the immune activity of the white blood cells was elevated about 20%.
Clinically, many practitioners note that echinacea seems to lose its effect after about two weeks, sometimes three. If you stop taking it for a week and start again, it will usually be effective again. This activity is completely consistent with the idea that it is a stimulant. When it has "stopped working" it has wrung everything it can out of the immune system. Perhaps the body has adapted to its stimulus, or perhaps its reserves have become exhausted.
One German scientific trial gave echinacea for eight weeks, and noted that immunity was stronger after eight weeks than after four, contradicting the above. But the German government restricts the use of echinacea to eight weeks (on products labeling).
Echinacea is also contraindicated, at least for long term use, in autoimmune diseases. It might be used for short term infections in those cases.
Long term use with echinacea -as short as one month- can also cause joint pain. This is noted in the Eclectic medical literature, and has been observed by modern practitioners as well. This is not a minor symptom, and indicates a deeper systemic disorder being induced by the echinacea.
Possibly the worst effect of taking echinacea to suppress every cold or infection that comes down the line is that this injures the vital force of the patient. It is a law of health that chronic suppression of acute symptoms will cause a chronic disease. I know this sound fantastic in the era of pill-popping for every ache, pain, and misery, but its also the era of chronic disease, especially in the pill-popping parts of the world. A cold or flu is more than a simple infection -- its a reponse to stress, diet, and other factors as well. It's net effect, if you follow it as a guide, is to make you rest, change your routine, fast lightly, change something in your life, and have somebody take care of you for a while. You -can- suppress a cold with echinacea, but if you don't change these other things, this will have a long term detrimental effect. I now have a collection of medical cases where people using echinacea this way rather than "paying the piper" and treating their colds properly developed deeper, more painful, and more chronic conditions, including a chronic intractable urinary tract infection, a worsening of migraine headaches, and a full-blown case of chronic fatigue.
Yes, echinacea will help someone with chronic colds. But if they persist in getting only seven hours of sleep a night when their body needs eight, or eating at fast food restaurants, or holding on to and acting on grudges and hatred in their life, they are only going to get sicker.
Editor, MEDICAL HERBALISM
-A Clinical Newsletter for the Herbal Practitioner-