This time of year welcomes in many wonderful things, such as the holidays, snow sports, and new resolutions for a promising year ahead. Unfortunately, it also welcomes in the cold and flu season. With severe weather changes, being stuck indoors, and excessive partying from the holidays, immune systems are low and can’t fight off invading viruses like at other times of the year. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to keep these invaders at bay. Getting adjusted to stimulate the immune system and hand washing are two key examples that I recommend. Another great tool for illness prevention is to supplement with Echinacea.
The effectiveness of Echinacea in fighting viruses has at times been debated. The truth is, there is plenty of research to support the ability of Echinacea to stimulate the immune system. The problem with the research that doesn’t support Echinacea is that they are using the wrong herb. It is important to realize that both vitamin and herbal supplements aren’t FDA regulated. That being said, companies that make supplements can say things on their bottles that aren’t going to be fact checked. In the case of Echinacea, there are many supplements out there that are ineffective. The effects of Echinacea are only possible if it’s the correct plant species, and more specifically, the root of the plant. The proper species is Echinacea augustifolia and Echinacea purpurea. If your supplement is not one of these two species, you’re not getting what you’re paying for. Furthermore, the immune boosting effect of Echinacea lies within the root of the plant. Many supplement companies instead use the petals of the flower, which is useless. The chemical within the root that contains the immune boosting effect is the alkamides. One way you can test if your supplement contains these chemicals is if you put it on your tongue. If your tongue tingles, alkamides are present. No tingle? No effect.
If you read the proper research, it is easy to see that Echinacea has proven itself. In addition to many studies, Echinacea has been used for centuries by Native Americans for these health benefits. However, be sure you are supplementing with the correct kind. At our office, we recommend Standard Process’ Echinacea Premium. This product contains at combination of both augustifolia and purpurea root and Standard Process has a reputation of the highest quality. It is important to note that Echinacea is a member of the daisy family. Therefore, if you are allergic to daisies, this product is not for you. Otherwise, take the recommended serving as you feeling a cold or flu coming on, and you have a surefire way to stop it in its tracks.