I’ve been taking echinacea to strengthen my immune system for many years.
Q. Dear Terry, “I’ve been taking echinacea to strengthen my immune system for many years. Lately I just don’t feel like it’s helping me as much. What else can I try?” — Crystal P., Ontario, Canada
A. Dear Crystal, Echinacea is a very powerful botanical for the immune system. Numerous studies have found that this herbal extract reduces the length and severity of colds, and helps people get back on track much faster. Compounds in echinacea stimulate the immune system. This makes echinacea especially useful when taken at the very beginning of a cold or flu, when the body needs to fortify its strength against the virus. If you are not receiving the same benefits of the echinacea you’ve been taking, I would try adding andrographis and pelargonium, which work synergistically with echinacea.
Andrographis helps prevent the common cold and reduces the intensity of symptoms – particularly sore throat and runny nose – and research has proven this. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, andrographis relieved the intensity of key symptoms in just two days, including fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, and the sleeplessness that can accompany a cold.
Pelargonium (also known as umckaloabo) is an herb that has been used traditionally by the Zulu people in South Africa for hundreds of years to treat coughs, colds, upper respiratory tract irritations, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal complaints. Pelargonium has antibacterial, antiviral, and expectorant properties, which attacks acute infections at their roots, strengthens the immune system, and prevents reinfection.
When choosing these ingredients, look for echinacea that is derived from fresh pressed aerial juice, andrographis that is standardized to andrographolides, and pelargonium that is standardized to umckalin and polyphenols. These ingredients are safe to take daily and are especially useful during cold and flu season.
Terry . . . Naturally