Immune Boosting Double Duty – Echinacea and Goldenseal

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 24, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH

So I have boasted non-stop about how healthy I am, and how I hardly ever sniffles… And this week my visiting family (excepting my immediate loves et moi) was hit with a cold of the pre-schooler kind (the hardest)! Luckily, I’ve been boosting my family’s immunity with a duo of herbs, daily. I’ve been fortifying us all winter, and so far so good!

Echinacea and Goldenseal are two amazingly immune boosting herbs. I wanted to write about them together, because they work so well in tandem! Both grow indigenously in North America – in fact I just noticed that my mom has a ton growing in her front yard! – and have been used for centuries by the natives.

Echinacea is also known as purple cornflower, and works to support the body’s own defence mechanism. Scientists know that Echinacea is able to render an enzyme produced by bacteria ineffective, which stops it from multiplying. Translation: stops ailments from getting worse! Known in native medicine as a sacred plant, this tall pink-purple flowered plant was taken by the Sioux before cold weather, to build up resistance to infectious diseases. Additionally it effectively treated blood poisoning, counteracting the infection and aiding in eliminating inflammation. In those days the leaves and roots were chewed and the juices swallowed, but today we can take a capsule, tea or tincture. I love it in a tea, blended with soft, gentle herbs like chamomile and peppermint.

Goldenseal is also known as yellow root or Wild curcuma. It is a bitter herb that stimulates the secretion and flow of bile, and can also be used as an expectorant. It also has strong activity against a variety of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, such as E. Coli and Candida. Traditionally used by Native Americans to treat skin disorders, digestive problems, liver conditions, diarrhea, and eye irritations, it gained widespread popularity in the early 1800s due to its promotion by the charismatic founder of Thompsonian Medicine: Samuel Thompson (would I have loved to have dinner with that guy!). It aids in fighting infection by activating white blood cells, and is most effective in aiding places where mucus is produced: the mouth, sinuses, throat, the intestines, stomach, urinary tract and vagina.

We take these herbs for two weeks at a time, and then take a break. My relatives will probably be sniffling their way through our holiday festivities, but Sage’s crew will be fine through New Years! Good thing too, since we’ve scheduled a Swedish Roll In The Snow. Ahem.

Blowing kisses, Sage

Photo Credit: zanastardust

Read also: Sugar & Cancer: A Not-so-Sweet Connection

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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