Echinacea for Respiratory Tract Infections

Immunologist Dr Ross Walton and Nutritional Therapist Alison Cullen explain how echinacea can help protect you in cold and flu season.

Echinaceas - Echinacea for respiratory tract infections

A growing body of research shows that the herb Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) helps reduce the risk of catching Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs). It can also help reduce the severity of symptoms, and significantly reduces complications of RTIs such as sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia, making it an ever more useful as an over-the-counter treatment choice to support your winter wellbeing this year.

Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs), commonly known as colds and flu, are the most frequent infectious illnesses and it’s estimated we will spend one year in bed, around five years with a blocked nose, sore throat and a cough and we are likely pick up around 200 infections in an average lifetime.    

With these stats in mind, what can one do to keep well and protect immunity during the winter months? 

Dr Ross Walton, a leading Immunologist and founder of clinical research company, A-IR says: “As the weather changes, we become more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. The key to staying well lies first and foremost with eating a healthy diet and following a balanced lifestyle. In addition, Echinacea is a herb that is well worth considering taking in the form of a tincture or tablet as it has been shown to prevent the symptoms of a common cold erupting.”

Fact not fiction

Two newly published studies have confirmed the powerful antiviral effects of the herbal remedy Echinacea purpurea on preventing respiratory tract infections that surge in winter. A research study published in the journal BMC Open Access i has also shown Echinacea purpurea boosts the ability of lung cell models to fight off respiratory tract infections – at the first sign of a virus – including the common cold, influenza and new strains of corona viruses such as CoVid-19. 

The A.Vogel Echinaforce PL and THR range is probably the most researched brand available in the UK and is available as liquid drops, throat spray, chewable tablets and can be found at avogel.co.uk or via Boots, Holland & Barrett, and independent pharmacies and health stores. It uses a fresh extract of the herb Echinacea purpurea and has amassed 32 pieces of published research to support its efficacy in helping to: 

  • Reduce the risk of contracting a cold or flu
  • Reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms
  • Reduce cold and flu complications / secondary infections (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis) 

Echinacea for Respiratory Tract Infections

Nutritional Therapist, Alison Cullen, offers some tips on what one should do at the first sign of a cold or influenza to help reduce the symptoms:

  • Start taking Echinaforce Drops at the first sign of a cold if you are not taking it already. Swap to Echinaforce Throat Spray (£10.99, 30ml) if your throat is sore and add the Echinaforce Hot Drink (Echinaforce®  Hot Drink – £10.99, 100ml ) for general comfort and the delicious benefits of elderberry. 
  • Rest up, don’t man up! This is vital – your immune system needs your energy. Trying to soldier on reduces the amount of energy available for your immune system. And don’t rush back the minute you feel slightly better – remember the days when we convalesced?    Complete your recovery before heading back into public. 
  • Don’t eat heavily whatever the symptoms – you’ll divert useful energy away from immune function into digestive function. The reason you lose your appetite and want to lie in bed with infections is to maximise the resources available for your immune response. Stay hydrated though – warm drinks are perfect. 
  • Plenty of vitamin C and zinc-containing foods. Fresh fruit and veg, plus berries (veg soups and stewed fruit are ideal), with snacks of toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 
  • Rest, rest, rest. Hydrate. Stay warm. Watch funny films – laughter is good for your immune function. Use essential oils on a hanky or in a burner, to clear the air and brace your nasal passages. 
i Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench treatment of monocytes promotes tonic interferon signalling, increased innate immunity gene expression and DNA repeat hypermethylated silencing of endogenous retroviral sequences. Declerck K et al. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2021; 21 (1): 141 
ii https://eurjmedres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40001-021-00499-6

For more stories about coping with winter bugs, visit our health channel.

Last modified: November 26, 2021

Written by 12:00 pm Alternative Health, Health

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