Illustration of Echinacea plantEchinacea

Echinacea is the most popular human immune-boosting herb.  Until sulfa antibiotics were introduced in 1940, echinacea was the number 1 human cold and flu remedy in the United States.

Because dogs and humans systems function similarly, echinacea offers benefits to both.

Echinacea stimulates the immune system by increasing the white blood cells ability to overpower invading organism.

The herb also stimulates the lymphatic system to regenerate tissue and decrease inflammation, particularly that caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Because echinacea works best with a healthy immune system, use of other immune-boosting herbs, (such as Oregon grape and goldenseal) and a proper diet with nutritional supplements optimize its effectiveness.

Echinacea comes in pill, drop and tea form.  Researchers have determined the fresh pressed juice of echinacea purpurea (one of the three species of echinacea used in herbal medicine) is the most potent from because it contains the most active compounds. 

Work with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage.  Use echinacea for five to seven days, then take two to three days off.  This allows the body to rest and receive a greater immune boost with each dosage.  Treatment for longer than five to seven days can have negative results.

Echinacea is safe.  Even when taken in high doses, it has shown no toxic effects.  There are no known dangers from interaction with other drugs.

This article was taken from Dog Fancy Magazine, September 2000

Here is what Drs. Foster and Smith have to say about Echinacea.
by Jennifer Prince, DVM   Drs. Foster & Smith Veterinary Services Department

Echinacea is also known as the purple coneflower. Three of the nine species are used medicinally. They are E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida. The first two are most widely used. Echinacea has been used in humans to treat general infections and wounds, colds/flu, candidiasis, strep throat, staph infections, urinary infections, allergies, and toothaches. No one active ingredient has yet been found in echinacea. It is suspected to work by inhibiting viral and bacterial breakdown of the body's cell walls which is a necessary step before the bacteria and viruses can replicate in the body. It may also slow the growth of some types of tumors. 

Echinacea is used in fresh root, dried, tincture, tea, or capsule forms. Doses vary if the product is used at a tonic dose, maintenance dose, protective dose, or full course. Discontinue use after a maximum of 6-8 weeks as the immune promoting impact may fade. It may be started again at a later date. A scratchy throat may show up after extended use in humans. 

Do not use if the patient is suffering from autoimmune disorders such as lupus, or tuberculosis, or connective tissue disorders. Not recommended for people with HIV or AIDS; therefore, it probably should not be used in cats with FeLV, FIV, or FIP.

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