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Registered Medical Herbalist
Luzia Barclay
Tel: 01722 330663
Herbal Directory
A powerful immune booster

People, who regularly use Echinacea, know that it works. It is the most well-known of medicinal herbs. Many studies confirm its effectiveness.

Take early to prevent infection

For maximum effectiveness, take it with the first symptoms of infection. This can prevent it from taking hold.

Once an infection has invaded the body Echinacea can help to shorten the recovery time.

How does it work?

In comparison with antibiotics, Echinacea works by stimulating our own immune system. Antibiotics instead destroy both harmful and beneficial bacteria.

As a result of using Echinacea instead of antibiotics your immune system becomes better able to deal with infections and viruses – as they happen.

“In my view antibiotics should only be used as a last resort.”
says Luzia Barclay.

Luzia continues:
“researchers, led by Dr Craig Coleman from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, combined the results of 14 different studies on Echinacea's anti-cold properties.

In one of the 14 studies the researchers reviewed, echinacea was taken alongside vitamin C. This combination reduced cold incidence by 86%.”

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6231190.stm

Many scientific studies have shown that Echinacea stimulates phagocytosis, a process where white blood cells move around invading harmful micro-organisms, release chemicals and so digest them.

The immune system distinguishes between beneficial and harmful bacteria

An in-built intelligence seems to enable the cells of our immune systems to distinguish between beneficial and harmful bacteria.

Anti-viral remedy

Echinacea increases the amount of:

  • Interferon
  • Interleukin, and
  • A variety of other chemicals

All are essential for the workings of the immune system.

Antibiotics are useless against viruses

Viruses use our DNA in order to multiply. This makes virus-related infections very difficult to treat.

Echinacea stimulates Interferon production

Our cells try to release interferon when they are infected by viruses. This makes it more difficult for the viral infection to spread.

Interferon works like an early warning system:

When cells next to the virus infected cells perceive the released interferon, they change their metabolism and make it difficult for the virus to spread.

"The interferon then in turn puts killer cells on combat standby, which then destroy the infected cells"

Source: University Hospital Rechts der Isar

Fever - a powerful healing response

The body produces an increased temperature as a reaction to the infection. The fever should not be suppressed because it is a healing response.

The more interferon our body cells produce, the better we are able to prevent viral infections.

Echinacea is one of the most potent remedies that stimulate our body cells to produce more of this vital interferon.

Cancer-preventing properties

Research has shown that Echinacea boosts the activity and function of cells which are called Natural Killer (NK) cells.

Our immune system constantly fights killer cells

In September 2009 the Imperial College London scientists discovered the master gene that causes stem cells to turn into ‘disease-fighting NK cells’. (called E4bp4).

The immune system is “Frontline defence against tumours, viruses and bacterial infections”

“Natural killer cells – a type of white blood cell – are a major component of the body’s innate, quick-response immune system.

"They provide a fast frontline defence against tumours, viruses and bacterial infections, by scanning the human body for cells that are cancerous or infected with a virus or bacterial pathogen, and killing them.

"NK cells – along with all other types of blood cell, both white and red – are continuously generated from blood stem cells in the bone marrow over the course of a person’s lifetime”

Source: Imperial College London news release, 15 Sept 2009

What does this mean?

This shows that by using natural remedies like Echinacea we help to prevent illness by boosting and strengthening our own healing power (the immune system).

Can bacteria develop resistance? (as with antibiotics)

Whilst we know that bacteria develop resistance to pharmaceutical antibiotics. The best advice is to use them only as a last resort, to retain effectiveness in emergencies.

More and more people are becoming aware of the fact that bacteria develop resistance to pharmaceutical antibiotics.

Echinacea, like other natural immune boosting remedies are complex compounds, which makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for bacteria to develop resistance.

What does this mean?

Natural remedies contain a very large range of active ingredients which all work in synergy.

Pharmaceutical antibiotics contain one single known active ingredient and thus are quite easy for bacteria to develop resistance against.

Are all Echinacea remedies the same?

When choosing an Echinacea remedy the quality is of paramount importance.
Echinacea - November 2010 Newsletter
Herbs For Healing Newsletter - Echinacea. A remedy which increases the ‘non-specific’ activity of the immune system, it is the most popular and most researched natural plant remedy used all over the world. More info and recipes.
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