Bowls and Leaves

Powerful herbs to support your immune system

Some of the latest research in the treatment of cancer is in the area of improving or stimulating a cancer patient’s immune system to attack the cancer cells/tumors. Whilst this approach may appear new or novel herbal medicine has long been able to provide plants that have an immunostimulatory or modulatory effect.

Echinacea

One of the more common herbs used to support our immune systems is Echinacea.

Indigenous to North America, Echinacea has long been used by Native Americans as a remedy for a diverse range of ailments – from snake bite to boils. Although there are many species of Echinacea only 3 are of use medicinally, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea purpurea.

E purpurea and angustifolia

E purpurea and angustifolia are more commonly used in herbal products in Australasia. Due to the expense E angustifolia, E purpurea is usually preferred. North American Indians solely used the roots of E Angustifolia but due to its slow growth and high cost plus some early science the flowing tops of E purpurea have been the preferred plant and part for some time. Latterly research has focused on the group of constituents called alkylamides which are found in higher concentrations in the roots of E purpurea and E angustifolia.

Alkylamides

Alkylamides have been viewed as markers of quality in Echinacea preparations – they exhibit significant tingling on the tongue when the roots are chewed. Additionaly they have been clearly shown to be bioavailable (easily absorbed) unlike a number of the other constituents which analysis has shown to be likely inactive in many of the preparations used today.

The Immunomodulatory effects of the Echinacea Alkylamides have been studied in a number of models and have been shown to improve a number of immune responses in both laboratory tests and also human studies. Several studies have also looked at infection prevention – naturopaths and herbalists often recommend a daily dose of Echinacea as a preventative to infections particularly over the winter. Studies have shown that using Echinacea when you have a cold or flu does help to reduce the severity and duration of the infection.


Our current view of Echinacea is that it improves our immune function – much like having your car serviced and the engine tuned to make it more efficient. The dose taken daily to assist in the prevention of winter ills plus the amount needed when you do have an infection is critical. For the correct dosage of Echinacea or any immune tonic product please contact your health professional.



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