Echinacea is an herbal supplement that is used as an immune-system booster. Many take echinacea supplements to prevent colds and the flu, while others use the supplement at the onset of symptoms to hasten recovery. But many aren’t sure if echinacea really works.
Uses of Echinacea
Native Americans once used echinacea to boost their immune systems and prevent illness. Research shows that it may be somewhat effective in the treatment of the common cold, but echinacea is also often used to treat yeast infections.
The Benefits of Echinacea
Research has shown that echinacea may prevent as many as 65% of common colds. It also reduces the length of cold symptoms, so that cold sufferers recover almost two days faster if they begin taking echinacea when symptoms appear. Research has also shown that combining echinacea with vitamin C supplements prevents 85% of common colds.
Use Echinacea with Caution
Though research has shown that using echinacea can have temporary health benefits, doctors caution that those with healthy immune systems shouldn’t use the herb on a long-term basis. The effects of echinacea can wear off after you’ve used the supplement for a couple of weeks, and you’ll need to allow yourself at least a week without it so that your immune system can operate normally. If not, doctors worry that echinacea may ultimately inhibit immune-system function.
Echinacea should not be mixed with certain prescription medications, so tell your doctor if you’re planning to take echinacea supplements. Echinacea products are popular, however, they don’t fall under the control of the FDA. Therefore, choose a quality product from a reputable manufacturer that should be willing to verify quality, freshness and purity.