Healthy man in a field | Echinacea

Can Echinacea help us fight viruses?

Echinacea has been a popular choice for people who want to improve their chances of fighting viruses such as the common cold for centuries, and continues to be one or the first go-to herbal medicines for anyone who wants to support their immune system. 

But what is it about this seemingly unassuming herb that gives it the power to help keep us free from sniffles, coughs and sneezes?

The ‘common’ cold is well-named as it is extremely prevalent – not just in the winter and is a virus which seems to thrive in our often damp and chilly climate.

We have all learnt the best way to avoid viruses over the past months: good hand hygiene, social distancing and making sure you cover coughs or sneezes. However, there is no way to avoid catching a virus completely – what you can do, is boost your immune system to help keep them at bay.  A healthy diet, plenty of exercise, good hygiene practices and taking echinacea tablets can all help to protect you against the worst of the winter lurgies.

According to a study entitled Echinacea Reduces the Risk of Recurrent Respiratory Tract Infections and Complications, Modulation of the immune system and antiviral interventions such as echinacea might reduce the risk of recurrences and possibly the development of complications. 

In other words, by boosting your immune system, you are less likely to catch a virus or reduce the severity of symptoms if you do. 

How can echinacea help in the fight against viruses?

Echinacea is used to boost the body’s natural resistance to a wide variety of illnesses and infections and was used by native Americans to heal septic wounds and snake bites. In Europe, echinacea was a key ingredient in traditional tonics and blood purifiers.

Today, it is used to support the immune system, particularly in helping to ward off colds and viral illnesses. 

Many of the positive reviews we receive from loyal customers are from people who find that taking a course of echinacea tablets before the cold season gets into full swing can help them to increase their chances of staying well all winter long.

At HRI, we make two licensed herbal medicines which contain echinacea: 

HRI Cold & Flu Echinacea is designed to help relieve the symptoms of colds and flu and can be taken throughout the year to ward off viruses. Each tablet contains 56mg of extract from the root or rhizome of Echinacea purpurea, equivalent to 338-450mg of Echinacea.

HRI Coldcare is the first UK licensed product to contain Echinacea as well as vitamin C and zinc, giving you three key ingredients to relieve colds and flu symptoms. It can also be taken daily to support your immune system or when you have an infection. 

In addition to taking echinacea, there are other steps you can take to help reduce your chance of catching a cold:

Keep your hands clean

As we all know, good hand hygiene is key in avoiding transferring viruses from surfaces or the air onto your face and into your airways. 

Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with antibacterial soap, or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel when you can’t get to running water will help to kill off germs before they can be spread.  

Up your vitamin intake

Eating a mainly plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables isn’t just good for your waistline, it also helps your body fight against illness. The main ones to focus on are vitamin A, which is in coloured vegetables such as squash, yellow peppers and beetroot, for example, vitamin D from oily fish, meat and egg yolks and vitamin C, found in oranges, strawberries and blackberries. Your body can’t store vitamin C, so it is particularly important to make sure you have plenty every day. 

Get enough sleep

Sleep gives your body a chance to repair the damage that’s happened during the day, including fighting infection. By getting at least seven hours sleep a night, your body has time to recover each day, boosting your immune system and giving you the best chance of fighting off viruses like the common cold and flu. 

Enjoy the fresh air

Getting outside, even on cooler days, helps to boost your immune system, as well as increasing your vitamin D levels from sunlight. Taking a brisk walk, jog or cycle in the open air is one of the best ways you can stay clear of viruses. 

Please note: Whilst many people are choosing to take echinacea at the moment, it has not been proven to protect against Coronavirus.

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