Echinacea is a member of the daisy family that blooms with stunning spiky flowers. The leaves, flowers and roots have been used for hundreds of years in traditional Native American medicine. Echinacea extract is now one of the most popular over-the-counter herbal extracts for supporting the immune system through cough and cold season.
Echinacea contains compounds called “alkamides” which have a strong effect on the immune system. Laboratory tests have shown that these alkamides boost the number of immune cells in the body and improve the way that the immune system fights off infections*. Studies have shown that taking echinacea can improve the way that white blood cells fight against infective bacteria and infections, reduce inflammation throughout the body, and speed up healing .
Here are our top three reasons to give echinacea a try this cough and cold season:
Echinacea might help fight 5 symptoms of the common cold
Echinacea could help to reduce your risk of catching the common cold, and might help to reduce the severity of upper respiratory symptoms, too. A 2007 study found that people who took echinacea during winter were 58% less likely to develop a respiratory illness than those who took a placebo. Those who did develop a respiratory illness experienced less severe symptoms, showing that echinacea might help fight the 5 symptoms of common cold – sore throat, phlegm, cough, fever and fatigue. .
Echinacea for a happier holiday
Long haul flights are stressful on the body and especially the immune system. If your next holiday is international, it might be a good idea to give echinacea a try. A study found that 50% of travellers flying from Australia to America, Europe or Africa were likely to develop some kind of sickness while on board the plane – usually a cold that would take at least three days to recover from. Participants in the study who took echinacea for two weeks before they left for their trip were far less likely to get symptoms of the common cold – and they got over their symptoms much faster, too. 
Echinacea to get back to work faster
As well as reducing your risk of catching the common cold in the first place, a higher dose of echinacea might help to shorten the duration of the 5 common cold symptoms – sore throat, phlegm, cough, fever and fatigue. A 2007 study found that people who took echinacea were likely to recover from the common cold roughly two days sooner than those who took a placebo . That's two valuable workdays or, even better, an entire weekend to feel back on top of your game.
- In a reference to the spikiness of its flower heads, the name “echinacea” comes from the Greek word ἐχῖνος or echinos, meaning “hedgehog”! Sounds more like “echidna” to us.
*Infection refers to the common cold, mild upper respiratory tract infections & illness.