The trouble with colds and flu
Colds and flu are caused by viruses and, since there are over 200 of these in existence, this explains why we get them regularly throughout our lives. The other problem is just how easily colds and flu spread - you only have to be 1 metre or closer to someone to be infected by droplets from a sneeze!
After infection, colds and flu can result in array of frustrating and unpleasant symptoms:
From nasal sprays and cough syrups to natural remedies such as Echinacea, there are an array of colds and flu treatments available.
What is Echinacea?
Echinacea is a plant native to America but is now widely cultivated in Europe. It is part of the daisy family and is well-known for its bright purple flower. Our Echinacea plants can reach a height of 1.8 metres because we don’t use them until they’re fully developed, though other varieties may vary in height.
How does Echinacea help cold and flu symptoms?
Echinacea can be used to help relieve symptoms of the common cold and flu. It works by strengthening the immune system so that it is better able to fight infection. Don’t just take our word for it though; there is research to back this up!
Echinacea may reduce the development of recurrent colds
A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trails found that Echinacea reduced the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications. This demonstrates why it is definitely the go-to product for a healthier winter!1
Echinacea is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral
The root of Echinacea purpurea has been found to be strongly anti-inflammatory whilst the aerial part demonstrates antiviral activity.2 Therefore, when using an Echinacea product it is important to make sure it uses both parts of the plant, just as our Echinaforce Echinacea Drops do. To ensure that no part of the plant is wasted, and to create an end product with many active ingredients, our Echinaforce tincture consists of 5% root and 95% flowering herb.
Moreover, fresh extracts of Echinacea purpurea showed considerably higher levels of antiviral activity than dried extracts. Again, our Echinaforce Echinacea Drops make use of fresh plants rather than dried ones so it is a stand out product.
Echinacea eliminates viruses and bacteria
Echinacea makes the immune system more efficient but it also helps to kill viruses and bacteria. This approach explains why Echinacea has been shown to be so effective when it comes to fighting cold and flu infections.
Echinacea can improve cold and flu symptoms
Research shows that Echinacea purpurea helps to ease cold and flu symptoms, when it is used as soon as a cold starts.3 On top of this, other researchers have concluded that Echinacea purpurea can speed up the resolution of cold symptoms when taken at the onset of symptoms.4 When taking Echinacea, there was an increase in the number of white blood cells circulating the body, as well as monocytes, neutrophils and natural killer cells – these are all key components of the immune system.
How do we make our Echinacea products?
Our Echinacea seeds can be traced back to North America and a Native American called Ben Black Elk. Black Elk introduced our founder, Alfred Vogel, to many medicines in the Sioux tradition, including Echinacea. On Vogel’s departure from North America, Black Elk presented him with a handful of Echinacea seeds which were then successfully cultivated in Switzerland.
Step 1 – Echinacea is grown
Our Echinacea plants are grown organically in Teufen, Switzerland, from seeds descended from those given to Alfred Vogel by Black Elk. Our plants are left to grow and mature until they reach their optimum potential. A team of gardeners are on hand to painstakingly weed and harvest the plants and at no point are artificial fertilisers, insecticides or herbicides used.
Step 2 – Echinacea is harvested
We harvest the aerial parts of the plants after two years and then harvest the roots after year 3 when they are fully developed.
Echinacea plants can be harvested from the middle of July to the middle of August. Here at A.Vogel our plants are processed within hours of harvest to avoid deterioration. This also helps the environment because transportation is kept to a minimum and there is no need for fumigation or irradiation (processes that are carried out on dried herbs to ensure infestation has not taken place during storage).
Step 3 – Echinacea is processed
As well as helping the environment, fresh rather than dried extracts maximise the potency of all our Echinacea products and, in turn, make the most effective cold and flu remedy possible.
In a tincture made from fresh plants, for example, there are almost twice as many alkylamides than in a product made from dried extracts. Alkylamides are an important component of Echinacea that contribute to its effectiveness.5
As Echinacea can be harvested throughout the summer months, individual batches can vary in terms of the ingredients they contain. By mixing batches, however, we are able to achieve a constant concentration of all the many natural, active ingredients contained in Echinacea.
Step 4 – Our Echinacea receives stringent quality checks
From the time it is harvested to the time it is packaged up, our Echinacea products undergo over 100 stringent quality checks. This guarantees the end products contain neither microbial impurities nor pollutants such as heavy metals or pesticides.
Although a variety of tests are undertaken, our quality experts pay particular attention to odour, colour and taste. It is also important to note that never in this process are our products tested on animals.
1 Schapowal A, Klein P, Johnston SL. Adv Ther. 2015; 32 (2): 187-200.
2 Vimalanathan S et al. Journal of Applied Science 2013; 2 (12); 001-005.
3 Goel et al. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2004; 577:563-569.
4 Goel et al. Phytother Res. 2005 Aug; 19 (8): 689-94.
5 Woelkart K, et al. Bioavailability and pharmacoignetics of Echinacea purpurea preparations and their interaction with the immune system. Int Journal of Clinical Pharamcology and Therapeutics 2006, 44(9): 401-408.