Learn More About Goldenseal / Echinacea
What are Echinacea and goldenseal?
Among those who use herbs for their possible health benefits, these two plants are, with the possible exception of garlic, the most popular of all botanical medicines.
Echinacea, or purple coneflower, grows wild in the Midwestern and Eastern areas of North America, and is a common sight in many gardens. A relative of the buttercup, goldenseal is also native to North America, and grows primarily east of the Mississippi River.
What are echinacea and goldenseal used for?
Long before Europeans came to the New World, Native Americans used echinacea for dealing with a wide variety of health problems, from lung infections to snakebite, and white settlers took note of this. By 1920 echinacea was among the best selling medicines in the United States, although the adoption by mainstream doctors of antibiotics caused a sharp drop in the usage of this herb in America.
However, echinacea remained, both then and today, popular in Europe, especially Germany, where a great deal of scientific research has been carried out that points to the herb’s potent immunostimulant properties.
In one recent instance, a German experiment involved administering either a placebo, or echinacea once a day, or echinacea twice a day, to subjects suffering from influenza. The flu sufferers who got the placebo or a single daily dose of echinacea showed no benefit, but those lucky enough to get it twice a day exhibited a noticeable decrease in fatigue, muscle aches, and chills.
Another study involved over a hundred subjects in the early stages of a cold. Fewer than half of hose who took echinacea were less likely to become fully symptomatic, versus sixty percent of those who received the placebo. Also, among the echinacea group, those who did get colds recovered several days sooner than did those in the placebo group.
By one estimate, in excess of 400 studies show that echinacea increases resistance to infection. Scientists explain this herb’s properties by pointing out that it appears to boost the body’s production of antibodies, stimulate interferon production, and to increase both the count and the activity level of white blood cells. Taking all this a step further, some researchers contend that echinacea has applications in the treatment of both chronic fatigue and HIV, although much more work in these areas needs to be done before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
Another herb with a long history of use by Native Americans, especially Cherokees, Gooldenseal contains such alkaloid compounds as canadine, berberine, and hydrastine, the latter of which was actually classified in America as a drug until the middle of the nineteen-twenties. Goldenseal’s infection-fighting properties appear to stem from these substances.
Although goldenseal has in common with echinacea a certain degree of immune-boosting activity since it raises production of immunoglobulins, this herb’s main use is as a natural antibacterial agent. Because of its astringent properties, goldenseal seems particularly useful with regard to diseases that involve the mucous membranes, and is therefore often employed by herbalists to fight infections of the gums, stomach, sinuses, and urinary tract.
Herbalists and many nutritionally oriented doctors believe that the combination of goldenseal’s antibacterial effects with echinacea’s immune-boosting properties make for an especially good team when it comes to fighting respiratory infections. The duo of echinacea and goldenseal is a permanent bestseller among consumers as well, and is often the first line of defense against colds and influenza.
Are echinacea and goldenseal safe?
Both herbs appear to be quite safe, although it is worth noting that the alkaloids from goldenseal are flushed very slowly from the body. This means that in theory they could build up to unhealthy levels if taken for a long time. In practice this does not seem to be much of an issue, since most people only use goldenseal during short periods of illness.
How are echinacea and goldenseal used?
Some people prefer liquid extracts of these two herbs, since this form enables them to more easily come in contact with the mucous membranes when swallowed. Others like the convenience of capsules or tablets.
When buying echinacea and goldenseal, look for some indication on the label that these herbal products have been standardized, so as to assure maximum potency.
Follow all label directions faithfully, and do not take these two herbs on a continuous basis. Discontinue use after two months.
And remember—you can get the best goldenseal and echinacea supplements at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!