Boost Your Immune System with Echinacea

Post by Contributing Writer, Stacy

As we head into the fall and winter months, many of us will find ourselves fighting one illness or another.

Nobody likes a cold and we all want to do what we can to prevent getting sick in the first place or speed up the healing process if we do happen to come down with something.

That’s where Echinacea comes in.

Echinacea has been clinically proven to reduce the duration of the common cold and to lessen the intensity of symptoms.

Isn’t it wonderful that a humble plant can do so much? This is why I love herbs!

When to Take Echinacea

It is best to take Echinacea at the sign of infection. If taken at this early stage it can prevent the infection from growing into a full blown illness. Continuing to take Echinacea through a cold will reduce the severity of symptoms and speed recovery.

Echinacea is useful for most viral and respiratory infections such as colds, influenza, fevers, sore throats, and coughs.

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How to Take Echinacea

Echinacea may be taken in tincture form, as a tea, or in a capsule (in powdered form).

I prefer to take Echinacea as a tincture. There are many excellent brands such as: Herb Pharm, Tri-Light, and Gaia. Echinacea tincture is available in an alcohol or glycerin base. Both are effective. Be sure to chose a glycerin-based product for children. (Michele’s note: We use the Oregon’s Wild Harvest Echinacea raspberry glycerite tincture for our family.)

Making your own tincture is very simple, although it does require some forethought since it needs to sit for a few weeks.

Echinacea should to be administered in small, but frequent doses.

If taking as a tea, 2 to 5 cups a day will be needed.

If taking as a capsule or tincture, follow the suggested dosage on the product packaging. If making your own, the general rule is to take ½ to ¾ of a teaspoon 3 to 4 times a day.

It is important to take a break from using Echinacea in order to sustain its effectiveness. Mary Gladstar recommends taking for 5 days and then having 2 days off. It has also been suggested by other noted herbalists that one could take for a number of weeks and then take a few weeks off.

I personally would take it for the duration of a cold and then stop. Echinacea is not the kind of herb that should be taken continuously. It is best used at the first sign of a cold and for the duration of a cold; such as feeling achy, excessively tired, congested, or generally a “little off.”

Who should Not take Echinacea

Echinacea is not suitable for those with tuberculosis, or HIV infection or other auto-immune disorders such as lupus and multiple-sclerosis.

Do you take Echinacea during illness? I’d love to know how it has worked for you.

{Top Image Credit}
Herbal Nurturing from Frugal Granola
Stacy is wife to a preacher and mom to three busy children. She strives to live a healthy, happy life with God at the helm. Stacy writes about finding peace and joy at home, on her blog: Delighting in the Days.

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29 comments to Boost Your Immune System with Echinacea

  • Charise

    My toddler son and I just finished our first cold of the season. Unfortunately I didn’t catch his until his nose was filled with snot. Ick!!! However, I started giving him the echinacea immediately and it really helped to shorten the duration of his (and eventually my) cold.

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    @Charise, it’s great to hear that Echinacea worked for you. It’s amazing stuff!

    [Reply]

  • What is the best way to store this?

    [Reply]

    Michele @ Frugal Granola Reply:

    @Jody “Book Mama”, You can store echinacea just like any other dried herb, in a cool, dry place. (I usually store my herbs in glass jars or food storage bags.) Make the tea as you’re ready to use it.
    Blessings,
    Michele

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    @Jody “Book Mama”, I second what Michele said: a cool, dry place. If you decide to purchase or make tincture, keep that in a cool, dry place too.

    [Reply]

  • […] Today I’m giving a few more details about how and when to take Echinacea (as a tincture, tea or capsule) to give your immune system a boost during a cold. […]

  • Excellent post. I really like Herb Pharm’s Super Echinacea tincture. 3x a day at the 1st symptoms, plus 3 drops of Oreganal 3x a day. Knocks is right out.

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim<

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    @Kim W, Thanks for sharing that.

    It’s wonderful to hear herbal success stories!

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  • We like to use the tincture with echinacea and goldenseal. I put it into the kids’ juice or for an extra boost, into their green smoothies. We also add in some vitamin D drops.

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    @Becci, That sounds like a great combination.

    [Reply]

  • Cori

    What are your thoughts on using this fabulous herb occasionally during pregnancy (i.e. to boost immunity while flying, after being exposed to a cold, or the onset on a cold)?

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    @Cori, As far as I know it is safe to take Echinacea during pregnancy. But it may not be the best time to take it if you have never had it before (just to be safe if there was an allergic reaction of some sort).

    Echinacea is best taken at the first sign of a cold.

    Astragalus is good to take when flying or going to places where you will have contact with lots of people. I have read contradictory information about its safety during pregnancy though(some say it is safe, others say it isn’t).

    Sorry if that wasn’t very helpful!

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    I had a brief head cold this past week, and my midwife said it was fine for me to take the Echinacea glycerite tincture (at 15 wks pregnant); but check with yours to make sure for your own health needs. :) The cold cleared up quickly with it, in addition to a much-needed chiropractic adjustment.
    Blessings,
    Michele

    [Reply]

  • You can make as a tea..Its help to shorten the duration of cold..Thank you for sharing..

    [Reply]

  • Excellent post! Don’t you just love herbs that are BOTH beautiful AND serve such a useful purpose. What a great example.

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  • Tara Burton

    I recently purchased (after reading this post) an Echinacea tinture that is alcohol free from my local Sprouts. The dosage on the back says 30 to 60 drops. Obviously I wouldn’t give 60 drops to my 3 and 4 1/2 year old (and it says that 30 drops is one dose) how many drops WOULD be recommended for children that age? I’m very new to this and want to get it right :)

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    @Tara Burton, It’s always hard when there are not clear instructions for age!

    In the book: An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants, Mary Bove suggests 1/2 to 1 teaspoon,3 times a day for children and 20 to 40 drops,3 times a day for infants. This is the recommended dosage for when a child is sick.

    Another book suggests 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of tincture for a 50 pound child. These things are never overly clear!

    If you are unsure, you can always call the manufacturer of the tincture you purchased and see if they have any recommendations.

    It is always good to approach herbal dosages with caution (as you are doing).

    [Reply]

  • Tara Burton

    Thank you so much Stacy! I appreciate the feedback … didn’t even think to call the manufacturer of the tincture … think I may do that tomorrow before they get sick & I need to use it! :)

    [Reply]

  • […] contrast to enchinacea, which is best taken at the first sign of a cold, astragalus is an excellent preventative herb and […]

  • I have been using echinacea for the past 5 years and I firmly believe in it’s effectiveness! Whenever I feel like I’m coming down with a sore throat (or strep throat!) or a cold, I take a couple tablets of echinacea. It has cut down over 95% of having to go to the doctor for a prescription! I have told everyone I run into it about this.

    [Reply]

  • Tara Burton

    A friend recently sent me some herbs … one of them being echinacea … does anyone have a recipe for making an echinacea (glycerin or honey) tincture for children?

    [Reply]

  • Juliann Balog

    Hello – I have been unemployed for almost 1.5 years — and FINALLY have two great interviews coming up January 2013. And … I’ve been coughing horribly and wondered what to do to stop the coughing so I don’t mess up the interviews.

    During the holidays my doctors’ offices are closed and that turned out to be great news!

    I have a bottle of GAIA echinacea tincture, started taking it yesterday every hour or so, 1 stopperful in a little warm water. I read in your article that’s probably too much.

    Well it’s almost 5 a.m., woke up and realized I didn’t cough all night long!

    Thank you for your very helpful article!

    Juliann
    Stow, Ohio

    [Reply]

  • Leticia

    can My 9year old take Echinacea capsules the bottle says its Echinacea purpurea 760 MG it doesn’t give an age range

    [Reply]

  • Preeta

    Can a six month old baby take the Echinacea drops

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    With a young baby, I personally just take them as a breastfeeding mama, and believe the benefits pass to the baby. There are some herbal products commercially available for children, so check the dosage on the bottle for ages/amounts.

    [Reply]

  • […] I previously took echinacea capsules daily during the cold and flu season until I discovered that it's really best to use echinacea at the first sign of illness. […]

  • […] I previously took echinacea drops daily during the cold and flu season until I discovered that it’s really best to use echinacea at the first sign of illness. […]

  • Stephanie

    With the school season just about to start I was curious as if my 11 yr old could take 760mg. Everyday with his other multi vitamin??

    [Reply]

  • julie

    If using echinacea for my daughter she is 1 year old how many drops can I give her

    [Reply]

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