Echinacea activates the immune system so that it does a better job of fighting off both viruses and bacteria. Echinacea can also help to reduce fevers, particularly low-grade fevers. In addition, it helps with allergy symptoms, inflammation, lymphatic congestion, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and even scarlet fever and anthrax. As if this weren't enough, echinacea also helps the body to eliminate poisons.
Many people take echinacea on faith, without feeling certain whether or not it helps them. This usually means they are not taking enough of it, but there isn't a single correct dose that works well for everyone. Some practitioners recommend 3 drops, others recommend 25, and others recommend a teaspoon, but the correct dose depends on the user, not on the practitioner. When the dose is correct, however, the person taking it should experience relief of symptoms and at least some lasting improvement in overall condition.
Some people respond profoundly to small doses. These people tend to take half a pill or less when most people would take a whole pill or more, and they also tend to do well with homeopathic remedies. For a person of this description, one to three drops will usually suffice.
Other people should start with 8 drops or fewer if they've never taken echinacea before, simply in order to make sure that they do not have an allergic reaction. After that, one needs to notice what amount elicits a reaction. Some people need more of whatever they're taking to get a response, and others less. For people who typically take the maximal dose of everything, whether herbs or over-the-counter medications, the correct dose of echinacea may be 85 drops.
Most people need an amount in between the megadose and the homeopathic; it requires good self-observation to figure out one's optimal dose. Start with 8 drops to eliminate the possibility of an allergic reaction, and notice how this amount affects you. If it doesn't have much effect, try 25 drops. If that helps a little, try 35 or 45. If it makes a big difference, you have found your correct dose. If it doesn't, try 65 or 75. You can safely go up to about 88 drops, but you have to figure out how much you need based on self-observation.
During the flu season and whenever colleagues, classmates, and passengers on the train and bus have colds and flus, it's a good idea to take echinacea, goldenrod, spilanthes, or astragalus about three times a day. If someone you're living with has a cold or flu, take it 5 times a day. During the acute phase of a cold or flu, take one of these herbs every hour. For maximal efficacy, switch off among these herbs every few days.
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