Which Echinacea Supplements Are Best?

Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal supplements in Germany and the United States.

The beneficial properties of many herbs are best when administered in whole form. Different plant parts seem to enhance the overall positive effects of herbs. Echinacea is one such herb.(12)

The whole-herb synergy may be because each part of the plant has different levels and types of helpful compounds. Echinacea contains more than one category of these biochemicals. For example, the roots contain volatile oils, while the above-ground parts contain polysaccharides. Other active constituents include:(1213)

Polysaccharides are thought to stimulate the immune system. However, animal studies have shown that these immune-boosting effects may not apply to all immune system cells. Sometimes whole herb supplements work better.(1213)

In an animal study, polysaccharides from echinacea had no effect on stimulating the production of natural killer cells by the immune system. But animals given whole herb supplementation showed significant increases in natural killer cells.(1213)

Best Echinacea Supplements for Upper Respiratory Infections

Be sure to look for products containing Echinacea pallidum root and/or Echinacea purpurea leaf in them. These have demonstrated effectiveness. However, Echinacea angustifolia, often found in herbal echinacea supplements, has not been shown to be effective for upper respiratory infections.(14)


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