How Does Echinacea Shield Against Infections?
The immune system in our body is one of the most important functions.
Without its proper functioning, without a good defence mechanism, we couldn’t survive as we are constantly subjected to the attacks of millions of germs. These can multiply and cause damage in the body only if they find the breeding ground for their survival and if the defence system is weak.
Researchers have found that Echinacea strengthens the body’s tissues against assault by invading micro-organisms. Tissues contain a chemical that acts as a shield against infections and for infections to take hold the invaders use a weapon that “melts” the tissues’ chemical shields.
Clinical trials prove that echinacea is beneficial for
- upper respiratory tract infections
- poor immune system
Echinacea helps to maintain a normal, healthy immune system. Taken regularly it can not only provide relief of cold and flu symptoms, but can also assist in the treatment of flu by reducing the severity and duration of symptoms.
Echinacea root (Echinacea purpurea) is available in the form of a capsule and liquid extract and is not only for the treatment of respiratory and urinary tract infections, but also for progressive systemic disorders such as
- leukosis (abnormal growth of white blood cells)
- connective tissue disease
- multiple sclerosis
- urinary tract infections
Most people don’t realize that the chemicals contained in the echinacea root differ significantly from those in the upper part of the plant. If we analyze the roots, we can see that they have high concentrations of volatile oils.
Echinacea extract can be used for surface wounds that have a poor tendency to heal.
The liquid extract preparations have immune-stimulating activity—they increase the number of white blood cells and other cells that destroy substances such as bacteria, protozoa and cell debris.
Native American Indian tribes were the first to use the Echinacea root for a variety of ailments and, until the 1800’s, it was one of their best-kept secrets. Around 1870, a German physician formulated a medicine containing Echinacea that became popular in European households, but it was not until the 1900’s that Echinacea gained recognition amongst healers in the west. As the interest in Echinacea increased, hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted with different Echinacea plant parts, confirming its efficacy.
Echinacea species are herbaceous, drought-tolerant perennial plants growing up to 140 cm or 4 feet, in height. They grow from taproots, except echinacea purpurea, which grows from a short caudex with fibrous roots. They have erect stems that in most species are unbranched. Both the basal and cauline (stem) leaves are arranged alternately. The leaves are normally hairy with a rough texture.