Article by Angela Haldane

Q. I have heard conflicting information about the quality of Echinacea available in the shops. Can you please shed some light on this subject.

A. Echinacea – Echinacea angustifolia, or Echinacea purpurea are the correct botanical species. It is important to purchase the preparation made from the root, rather than the flowering tops. The root contains the akylamides – which are responsible for the immune stimulating activity. This kind of preparation gives a tingling sensation on the tongue, therefore you can easily tell if you have bought an effective product. I can recommend the Cold Decongestant Formula on this website which contains echinacea root.

Studies show that Echinacea root extract enhances immune function by raising the natural killer cells. It is good in prevention – taking 5ml daily in the winter months or change of season. If you catch a cold or influenza, studies show that the echinacea group are sick for fewer days than the control group and the intensity of the symptoms are rated as less.

In an acute situation, it is important to take enough of the medicine to treat the infection. I recommend initially 5 ml 4-6 times daily, then once symptoms are improving, reduce to 3 times daily until the viral infection has gone. Then resume the preventative dose.

Echinacea has had a lot of mis-information, there are products that are ineffective by using the wrong part of the plant – the flowering tops rather than the root. This is because it is easier to harvest flowering tops and is therefore cheaper.

It is important to set it right – according to the scientific reports on echinacea and the traditional use of echinacea. It is a truly wonderful herb, that when it is used correctly, is highly effective for a wide range of conditions.