Times like these make us all look at the world through fresh eyes. As the news unfolds daily with the latest worries over the Coronavirus, more and more I find myself appreciating watching nature unfold this spring and observing our animals going about their daily activities with their usual bounce.
With a fresh focus I’ve been drawn back towards a project we started just 12 months ago.
We wanted to contribute to the protection of a species of plants by taking on the collation of a national collection. It is our way of doing our bit for the natural world. As members of Plant Heritage we looked at what plant species would both fit into our forest garden and is not currently being looked after by anyone else.
Immediately Echinacea Purpurea jumped out. It is a stunning daisy type flower (not just purple) that we have always loved; it is grown both for its beautiful flowers that we love but also its reputation for health benefits.
This has now come into sharp focus. I expect like many of you we keep Echinacea as part of our medicine cupboard, and at the first sign of a bug coming we take it. It has more than an anecdotal reputation as being successful in fighting off colds and flu-like symptoms.
Echinacea works by stimulating the immune system by increasing immune cells in the blood, especially the part of your immune system that reacts to any infections, before it has had a chance to create antibodies specific to the threat. By doing this it reduces the severity of illness and gives the body more chance to create its own antibodies to a viral infection.
Echinacea has been shown to help with coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, through a cell membrane mediated mechanism.
So can it be effective with this latest strain of coronavirus?
There has been a paper from a laboratory in Switzerland that has pointed to a promising trial.
There have also been some past studies that
have shown Echinacea purpurea to be successful against more common
coronaviruses that have not spread from animals using some of the phytochemicals
Please note that I do not come from a medical background and, although there may be some research that looks promising, I have also seen warnings that while there are reports that Echinacea might be good help towards the defence against Covid-19, there are some people who should not take it. This includes people who take other medication without their doctor’s approval, those with existing auto-immune diseases and also those who have already contracted Covid-19 as it could overwork the immune system.
When looking for an Echinacea product, make sure it is from Echinacea purpurea root. There are other varieties of Echinacea but purpurea is considered the best source.