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Echinacea Health Benefits

Help for fighting the common cold is as close as your garden, or your health food store. It comes from echinacea, or purple coneflower, a native wildflower with some very impressive medicinal qualities.

Purple coneflower is a well-known product in pharmacies as a natural way to strengthen the body's immune system.

The American Indians knew the value of the plant's root hundreds of years ago, and used it for a variety of ailments. And now it's a standard medicine in Europe, particularly Germany.

To get more information about the health benefits of echinacea, I visited with Dr. Varro E. Tyler, an expert in the herbal medicine field.

Dr. Varro Tyler: Echinacea is useful in stimulating the immune system, and there are good studies in Germany that indicate it is effective in moderating the intensity or even eliminating the symptoms due to infection with the cold virus.

It's taken at the first sign of a cold, during that period in which the symptoms are exhibited and then you need to stop. You don't take it over a long, long period of time because you can just stimulate the immune system so much and to continue to take it might result in some side effects.

There are nine species of the purple cone flower and they're all members of the aster family. They are some the of easiest perennials you can grow in your garden. It makes you wonder what else is in our gardens and along the roadsides that can help us.