Is echinacea on your cold & flu season shopping list? Here are 5 reasons why it should be!
As cold and flu season begins ramping up, millions of people are again wondering how to best protect themselves from getting sick. Well, we have good news! Along with commonsense prevention (such as getting enough rest, reducing stress, and washing your hands regularly), natural botanicals can also offer an added boost of immune protection.
Echinacea Purpurea is one of those common natural botanicals that has shown great promise in protecting us from getting sick. This herb has stood the test of time, and new research is once again shining the spotlight on the worthy herb. Here are a few of the many benefits to arming yourself with echinacea.
1. It comes as a standardized extract
“What is a standardized extract, and why does it matter?” you may ask. It actually matters quite a lot. There are so many factors that go into herbal remedies that many of us never think of: Are the herbs dried or fresh? How are the plants grown? How are they stored, and for how long? How much leaf is in the product, and how much flower petal? All of these factors can affect potency and effectiveness—a key reason that research provides inconclusive or contradictory results.
By choosing a standardized extract, we know that what we’re taking is consistent, effective, and proven.
2. It’s safe for ongoing use
Echinacea was put to the test when the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, UK, conducted the largest clinical trial of echincea to date, involving 755 participants: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study titled “Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinaforce for Long-term Prevention of Colds and Flu.” The participants took echinacea extract for four months, and due to the results of the study, Health Canada recently approved this extract for use every day for up to four months!
3. It leads to fewer sick days
Not only did the researchers find the product to be safe, but they also found that it led to significantly fewer sick days for the participants who took echinacea. It also inhibited colds and prevented viral infections.
4. It’s pleasant to take
While we know this technically shouldn’t be a deciding factor in what we choose, we all know that it really is. No one wants to take something that tastes awful. Luckily, the study participants were very “compliant” with the “protocol.” In non-science speak: they didn’t have concerns about the taste.
5. It’s widely available at health food stores
But remember—not all forms are equally effective. Look for a standardized extract. The type studied in the research mentioned here is a fresh liquid standardized extract that’s 95 percent herb and 5 percent root. And as always, make sure to consult your health care practitioner before trying out a new supplement.