By Linda Pecone
I love the power of plants. They have the power to heal as well as the power to harm if we do not understand the way of them. Echinacea is one such plant. If there is one plant that has become mainstream it would be Echinacea. It’s often referred to as the “antibiotic” herb. It can replace the over use of antibiotic drugs, and while that’s a good thing, it should not be over used, or

improperly used. If your infection is not life threatening, you may wish to try herbs instead of, or in addition to, regular antibiotics.
Many herbalists, like myself, use Echinacea for emergencies only. We use it for deep infection. Echinacea is very powerful in building white blood cells rapidly, effectively countering a wide range of bacterial infections such as mastitis, UTIs, staph, strep, blood poisoning, sinusitis, bronchitis, tooth and gum infections, chronic and acute sore throat, and surgical as well as accidental wounds. While I do not always turn to it for colds or flu, I do chose it for the bacterial infections in the sinuses, throat, and lungs that can sometimes follow colds or flu. Echinacea can be a helpful ally to counter them.  Here’s why I don’t personally turn to it at the first sign of a cold or flu; Echinacea puts your immune system on hyper-speed. Your body is fueled by it to kick whatever is ailing it. Often after this revved up immune system it will need to rest, and will slow itself down once the infection is gone. Imagine it like running a marathon, you train for the big day, and when it’s over you are tired and need a break. Your immune system will need to rest after the use of Echinacea.

Here are some other great uses and benefits of Echinacea:

  • it’s being used to combat cancer, especially brain cancer.
  • it boosts the immune system
  • due to its anti-inflammatory properties it’s a natural pain reliever, (and inflammation is the root of most disease)
  • it is very healing to the stomach and the entire gastrointestinal tract
  • it can improve many skin conditions including eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions

Undoubtedly Echinacea works in a myriad of ways that we can only begin to comprehend. However, one thing to consider is that we don’t want to use Echinacea as a band-aid for a weakened immune system brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices. If someone is frequently coming down with colds and flu, consider addressing the weakened immune system with building therapies such as rest, a nutrient-dense diet, regular exercise, joy and tonic immune-building herbs. Look for an upcoming article on these types of herbs.

Linda Pecone, along with her husband, is a long time resident of Lyons Colorado. She is a certified herbalist, birth and postpartum doula. She has been making and selling her elderberry products in Lyons for several years. She is also the owner of The Little Yellow House on Second Avenue.

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