Echinacea is a widely-used herbal supplement that is believed to help the body fight infections and reduce symptoms of the common cold and flu. Research suggests that the aboveground part of Echinacea purpurea is the most effective. A study of 95 people with early cold and flu symptoms found that those who drank several cups of echinacea tea every day for 5 days felt better sooner than those who drank tea without echinacea.
Types of EchinaceaThere are nine species of echinacea, but only two of them, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia, are commonly used in supplements.
While there is no strong evidence that echinacea has health benefits in any area, it is more commonly used to treat colds.
Choosing a High-Quality SupplementIt's important to choose a high-quality echinacea supplement and use it as soon as possible during a cold, with multiple doses per day for the first few days. When selecting an echinacea supplement, it is important to consider the type of echinacea used in the product. Different products use different parts of the echinacea plant, so the effectiveness of echinacea may differ from product to product. Additionally, approximately 10% of products had no echinacea at all; half were mislabeled as to the type of echinacea in the product; and more than half of the standardized preparations did not contain the amount of active ingredients listed on the label.
Maximizing BenefitsTo ensure that your body absorbs the full benefits of an echinacea supplement, it is important to select a high-quality product that contains the correct type and amount of active ingredients.
Additionally, it is important to take multiple doses per day for the first few days when you start taking an echinacea supplement. This will help maximize the benefits of taking an echinacea supplement.