Benefits of Echinacea & Goldenseal

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An assortment of herbal supplements. (Image: epantha/iStock/Getty Images)

For centuries, people have combined echinacea and goldenseal to restore health and battle a variety of ailments. Exactly how these herbs work is still a bit of a mystery, but some studies have proven their effectiveness for specific ailments and conditions. Both herbs are alteratives, meaning they help restore health and cleanse the blood of impurities. Alteratives don't work quickly. People take them over the long term to address chronic conditions.

Echinacea as an Immune Booster

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, echinacea contains active substances that enhance the immune system. It also relieves pain, reduces inflammation and offers hormonal, antiviral and antioxidant effects. Its uses include treatment of urinary tract infections, vaginal candida yeast infections, ear infections, athlete's foot, hay fever and sinusitis. Some reports claim that applying echinacea extract on sores helps reduce healing time, but no scientific proof supports this claim. Echinacea does have antiseptic properties, however, so it makes sense that it would help wounds heal faster.

Echinacea for Infections

In 2003, an article in "Phytomedicine" reported that Echinacea purpurea extracts induce macrophage -- mobile white blood cell -- activation. It also activates polymorphonuclear leukocytes -- white blood cells produced by bone marrow -- and natural killer cells, making echinacea an immune booster. According to the "Herbal Materia Medica," echinacea offers antimicrobial, antibacterial and lymphatic properties, making it a choice for infections.

Goldenseal to Calm and Nourish Mucous Membranes

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that some people use goldenseal to ease and nourish mucous membranes, making it a viable choice for urinary tract infections, sore throats, vaginitis, diarrhea, eye infections and canker sores. According to the "Herbal Materia Medica," goldenseal is an alterative, so it cleans the blood, while its antimicrobial and astringent properties soothe and protect the mucous membranes. Because of its bitter properties, goldenseal benefits the digestive tract and may ease the effects of indigestion.

Goldenseal to Lower Cholesterol

One of the biggest advantages that goldenseal has to offer is its ability to lower cholesterol. "The Journal of Lipid Research" published an animal study that identified goldenseal as a natural LDL-lowering agent. Goldenseal contains an alkaloid called berberine, which in the study helped lower LDL in hamsters.

Recommended Use and Precautions

According to Janet Zand, writing on the website Healthy.net, people may take echinacea and goldenseal two to three times per day for one to two weeks per month. Both remedies may be in the form of tinctures or pills, with tinctures the most effective. Long-term, continuous use of these herbs may have adverse effects, however. Also, these herbs may interact with prescription drugs, so check with your doctor before taking either.

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