Herbs

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Echinacea

(Echinacea purpurea)

Used for:

Helps address the symptoms of the common cold, flu, sore throat and other common infections. And helps episodes of low resistance to sickness; it enhances the immune system.

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Available in:

Tincture, capsule, tablet and extract form.

Herb / drug interactions:

No known interactions.

Other safety concerns:

For best efficacy, echinacea should not be used continuously for more than 10 days. Persons with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis should use echinacea with caution, and for the shortest period possible when they have colds or flu. Allergic reactions are infrequent.

When buying:

Look for combination echinacea products (containing both angustifolia and purpurea species) standardized to 4 percent echinacosides. Also, echinacea root produces a distinctive numbing sensation when held in the mouth for a few minutes. Always test echinacea products by putting a bit on the tongue; return any that fail to cause numbness.

Dosage:

Adults: One dropperful of tincture in water four times a day, or two capsules of freeze-dried extract four times a day.

Child dosage:

Half the adult dose.