Echinacea is a wildly popular folk remedy for treating the common cold. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), extracted from the Eastern Purple Coneflower, is one of the few immune-supportive herbs that’s actually native to North America.
The Great Plains Indian tribes long used the flowers, leaves, and roots of echinacea to make herbal tinctures and other botanical therapeutics before this herb ever caught on in modern times as an effective natural alternative to antibiotics and other drug-based medications.
Every part of the echinacea plant seems to present its own unique therapeutic flavor. The roots tend to contain the highest concentration of volatile oils, while the flowers and leaves contain higher amounts of polysaccharides. While polysaccharides are more closely associated with immune function, a great many of echinacea’s other constituents are also said to have an immuno-stimulating effect, including the plant’s flavonoids and essential oils.
In Germany, the above-ground portions of the echinacea plant are officially approved as a natural remedy for treating urinary and upper respiratory tract infections, as well as slow-healing wounds and colds. Echinacea is also widely used to fight back against influenza, with the largest clinical trial ever conducted on the herb suggesting that it exerts a profoundly positive impact on a weakened immune system.
The origins of its treasured use tend to center around Northern Africa and the Middle East. But frankincense (Boswellia carterii or Boswellia sacara) is gaining quite the reputation all around the world in modern times as a natural therapeutic with a whole lot of untapped healing potential. Evidence exists to suggest that frankincense is effective in helping to balance the Frankincense mind, body, and soul in truly profound ways that science is only just beginning to fully discover.
Often referred to as olibanum, frankincense is commonly used as a natural remedy to calm stress and anxiety, as well as to manage pain and support an all-around healthy lifestyle free of damaging inflammation. Its essential oils are believed to help facilitate the transmission of messages to the limbic system of the brain, which in turn has a direct impact on promoting optimal function within the central nervous system.
Specific to the immune system are the reported benefits of frankincense in enhancing its functionality. Studies also show that frankincense exhibits a powerful antimicrobial effect against harmful bacteria and viruses. It may even be a viable weapon against abnormal cell growth, as numerous trials have demonstrated its pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects.
Derived from the Arabic word “murr,” which means bitter, myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) has rich historical significance both as an aromatic spice and as a natural remedy for an assortment of ailments. Studies suggest that myrrh has a particular appetite for conditions marked by chronic inflammation. It’s also a powerful detoxifier, helping to rid the body of toxic metals such as lead.
The yellowish-orange essential oil extracted from myrrh resin contains two key constituents that to a large extent demarcate its therapeutic efficacy: terpenoids and sesquiterpenes.
Only in more modern times has this particularly aromatic antioxidant class been identified as having therapeutic significance. Studies show that the terpenoids in myrrh may help to prevent fats and other metabolites in plants against oxidation, and that similar benefits are possible in humans as well.Research has also shown that myrrh terpenoids possess unique anti-inflammatory properties that can help support a well-functioning body.
The “other half” to terpenoids, sesquiterpenes are another class of restorative compounds that can help support a healthy immune system in a variety of ways. The sesquiterpenes specific to myrrh possess powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties that lend to the herb’s reported effectiveness in purification and cleansing. This is why myrrh was commonly used in ancient times to embalm the dead. Sesquiterpenes are also said to be supportive in keeping inflammation at bay, as well as in helping to balance emotions and hormone levels.
Prof. Guy Van Elsacker Dr.Sc.