Body Sense

WINTER | 2015

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12 Body Sense HOW IT WORKS So, the question you are asking now is, how does echinacea work in the first place? Your body has a protein found in the blood serum called properdin. This protein, when triggered, signals the immune system to hurry up and arm itself because there's been a slew of viruses and bacteria reported in the system and it's time to get serious. Echinacea increases the levels of properdin in the body, making your body more efficient, organized, and all-around dangerous to invading organisms. As an antiviral herb, echinacea is also good at fighting off a cold, flu, and even herpes viruses. The trick with echinacea is you have to take it at the first sign of cold, flu, or viral outbreak. That means you need to take it at the first unusual sneeze, cough, sniffle, or itch, or even take it before then if anyone in your general day-to-day vicinity is ill. You can take it a few days into a full-blown illness, but it's much more effective if you take it right away. Try 900 milligrams daily in a tincture or tea. Besides being antiviral and antibacterial, echinacea is also anti- inflammatory and antifungal. So, no matter what's wrong with you—from a sore or scratchy throat to a stomachache, from a urinary or kidney infection to a cut or scrape (internal or external application)—echinacea is a good way to go. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't add that if you have an autoimmune condition, consult a physician before using echinacea. You may also have a sensitivity to it if you're allergic to daisies, ragweed, or sunflowers, because they come from the same family. B S Note 1. Karel Rauš et al., "Effect of an Echinacea-Based Hot Drink Versus Oseltamivir in Influenza Treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy, Multicenter, Noninferiority Clinical Trial," Current Therapeutic Research 77 (December 2015): 66–72. Tea for Boosting Immunity This tea is for short-term use (two or three weeks at a time is fine, so your system gets stronger and is able to fight colds and flu on its own). Note: avoid sarsaparilla if you are pregnant. 3 cups water 1 tablespoon dried and chopped echinacea root 1 tablespoon dried sarsaparilla root 1 teaspoon dried ginger root or 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root 1 stick cinnamon Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain out the roots. Add a little water back to your decoction until you again have 3 cups. Decant 1 cup into a mug, sweeten with honey, stevia, or maple syrup, and add nut or soy milk, if you like. Drink a cup a day when you feel ill or when those around you are ill. Amy Jirsa is a master herbalist and yoga instructor. She is the author of Herbal Goddess (Storey Publishing, 2015), writes regularly for online outlets including and MindBodyGreen, and blogs at Adapted from Herbal Goddess © Amy Jirsa. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

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