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When you feel a cold coming on, reach for echinacea (Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea augustofolia). Its antibiotic and antiviral properties make this native American plant an ideal first-line treatment for colds and flu, sore throat, and other simple infections. It can also help you through times of low resistance by enhancing the immune system.
Available in tincture, capsule, tablet and extract form, look for combination echinacea products (containing both E. augustifolia and E. purpurea species) standardized to 4 percent echinacosides. For best efficacy, begin taking echinacea when symptoms first appear and continue until the illness runs its course.
Echinacea should not be used continuously for more than 10 days. Those with autoimmune diseases should use it with caution, and for the shortest period possible. Try one dropperful of tincture in water four times a day, or two capsules of freeze-dried extract four times a day; children under 10 can take half the adult dosage.