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Echinacea purpurea is an herb that has been used by Native Americans to trigger the body’s natural abilities to heal itself. Recently, numerous studies and research have shown that foremost among the plant’s medicinal benefits is its effectiveness in boosting the body’s immunity against viral, fungal, and bacterial infections.

Echinacea’s therapeutic properties are mainly derived from its two active ingredients: echinacosides, found in the roots and flowers, and polysaccharide heteroxylan, found in the leaves.

Healing preparations made from the plant’s leaves, flowers, and roots help the body fight infection by stimulating the mucous membranes, liver, and lymph nodes. It is now a recommended natural remedy for sinus infections, sore throat, tonsillitis, coughs, bladder problems and kidney infections.

Echinacea also has wound-healing and germ-fighting properties.

Here are some ways to use Echinacea as a natural remedy:

Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements. To improve immunity to infections: Take commercially available Echinacea pills, tablets, lozenges, or liquids in the recommended dosages. Be advised that Echinacea should not be taken for long periods of time because the herb can over-stimulate the immune system.

To treat lesions and fever blisters: Apply a cotton swab dipped in pressed Echinacea juice on the affected area.

To help kill germs and reduce inflammation on abrasions, insect bites, and burns: Apply a cotton compress soaked in one part Echinacea juice and two parts water to the infected area.