Echinacea and Swine flu


HSI e-Alert – Week in Review 11/20/2009

Many people turn to Echinacea to help fight off nasty bugs during cold and flu season. But this season calls for special care in Echinacea use, according to natural health advocate, Gayle Eversole, Ph.D.

In an article on the Healthier Talk website, Dr. Eversole begins by outlining the proper way to use Echinacea.

“It is best used when you feel a cold or the flu coming on. Fresh plant tincture is my choice and recommendation. Take the number of drops equal to one-half of your body weight, for a week or two. If you are not improving, then switch to a deeper acting herb, such as elder. It may be that your body needs additional herbal support to strengthen your immune system. If this is the situation, then contact your health care provider.

“While this information is helpful, this year, beginning as far back as April, we at Creating Health Institute have not been recommending Echinacea for flu.

“The reason is ‘swine’ flu or what is called H1N1.

“‘Swine’ flu is a new virus and one of the severe complications associated with it is bacterial pneumonias that seem to reacting very differently in your body. ‘Swine’ flu and seasonal flu also present with the same symptoms so differentiation and diagnosis may be difficult.

“While pneumonia is a complication of flu viruses it appears to be much more virulent with ‘swine’ flu. This may lead to an over production of white blood cells most often referred to as ‘Cytokine storm’, an inflammatory reaction.

“The risk with Echinacea in this situation is that it is an immune stimulant and it increases the number of white blood cells to fight infection.

“This overabundance of white cells can lead to breaking down of the mucous membrane lining in the lungs and increase risk of death.

“One of the most helpful herbs to combat cytokine storm is nettle.Vitamin D lowers inflammatory cytokines as does vitamin C. Vitamin A (beta Carotene and fish oil based vitamin A combination) is a key nutrient for mucous membrane health; in high doses over a short time it is helpful for pneumonia.”

You can read Dr. Eversole’s entire article, titled “Be Careful When Using Echinacea for Flu,” on the Healthier Talk website.

This information is offered as a general guideline — not one-size-fits-all medical advice. Talk to your doctor before making any changes in your personal health care regimen.

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