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A lot of misinformation seems to follow this useful herb. For example, most of the German research was done on purpurea and pallida species of echinacea, although the angustifolia is the preferred species of most US herbalists. The tingling effect that some people use as a marker for good quality echinacea is Isobutylamine. However, this constituent is only present in the purpurea cone and the angustifolia root. The pallida has very little, however, it IS active, as shown by the German studies. Another bit of misinformation that is floating around is that Echinacea is that it is bad for the liver. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids come in two types, the saturated and the unsaturated. The saturated types are NOT toxic. The unsaturated are potentially hepatotoxic. Someone with very little understanding of biochemistry came along and said: Echinacea contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, it must be toxic. But it contains the saturated types, and is therefore not toxic. Misinformation strikes again! Actions: Anti-microbial, immunomodulator, anti-catarrhal, alterative. Indications: Echinacea is one of the premier herbs successfully used for infection. It actually fights infection in several ways, first it is an immune stimulant that helps the body defend itself against infection. And secondly, it acts like interferon, the body's own antiviral compound. It is generally successful when used on either viruses or bacterias. In fact, combined with other herbs it may be used safely and effectively for any infection anywhere in the body. For example in combination with Yarrow or Bearberry it will effectively stop cystitis. It is especially useful for infections of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis, tonsillitis and for congested sinus conditions. The tincture or decoction may be used as a mouthwash in the treatment of pyorrhoea and gum disease. It may be used as a salve or cream for skin infections. Much research is focusing upon this plant, providing important insights into its activity and potential uses. From research, we know that glycosides from the roots have mild activity against Strep and Staph. Echinacoside was the most active with about 6 mg being equivalent to one unit of penicillin. The tincture was able to reduce both the rate of growth and the rate of reproduction of Trich, and was found to be effective in the treatment of Candida. It seems to prevent infection and repair tissue damaged by infection, partially through inhibiting the activity of the enzyme hyaluronidase. The hyaluronidase system is a primary defense mechanism, involving connective ground substance, or hyaluronic acid, acting as a barrier against pathogenic organisms. Some pathogens activate an enzyme, hyaluronidase, which once activated destroys the integrity of the ground substance. This causes the barrier to become leaky, allowing pathogens to invade, attach themselves to exposed cells, penetrate the membrane and kill the cell. The result as an inflammatory infection. Echinacea inhibits the action of hyaluronidase by bonding with it in some way, resulting in a temporary increase in the integrity of the barrier. Fewer pathogens are able to stimulate the destruction of the ground substance. A quote from Dr. Daniel Mowrey's excellent review of Echinacea in Next Generation Herbal Medicine point up the issue of the daily use of echinacea: Daily intake should be restricted to what is deemed necessary. During cold and flu season, two to four capsules per day is sufficient. In the presence of acute infection, that dosage may be increased, without danger, to more than 8 capsules. In the presence of chronic infections, such as chronic hepatitis, echinacea may be used continuously for several months. However, for the maintenance of a healthy immune system, echinacea is most wisely used periodically--a few weeks on, and a few weeks off, throughout the year. Echinacea is not a tonic in all aspects; granted that it has been observed to stabilize the production of neutrophils, such tonic action has not been observed on other immune factors, such as properdin production. In the absence of conclusive experimental findings, it is both safe and wise to assume that the constant, unremitting use of echinacea could be stressful on certain aspects of the immune system. During breaks, the immune system will adapt and increase in natural strength. Echinacea is not the best tasting herb. For kids with colds, try lemon balm and elderberry tea or elderberry tincture and echinacea glycerite instead. Elderberry is mild, but effective against infections. Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the root in one cup of water and bring it slowly to boil. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take 1-4 ml of the tincture three times a day. Important: due to the intense interest in this herb, it is currently in danger of being over-harvested into extinction. Therefore, we request that when you buy this herb, you purchase only organic or properly harvested echinacea that is being tended to ensure maintenance of the wild stands.