What You Need to Know About Standardized Echinacea

Discover how standardized echinacea may help boost immunity by using fresh-expressed juice of Echinacea purpurea and root tinctures of all three species.

Find out how echinacea tea works to relieve flu symptoms.

Find out how echinacea tea works to relieve flu symptoms.

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Learn how standardized echinacea may help relieve dreaded symptoms of fever, as well as general dosage guidelines for echinacea root tincture, juice and tea.

What You Need to Know About Standardized Echinacea

In general, standardization ensures that a certain amount of an active ingredient exists in each herb dose. Uncertainty remains regarding which of echinacea’s constituents should be standardized, or even which constituents boost immunity. Also, putative key ingredients exist in varying amounts, depending upon the species. Probably several constituents act in concert.

When asked about the value of standardization, Steven Foster quoted Rudi Bauer, Ph.D. While speaking at the 1999 International Echinacea Symposium, Bauer said that judging the quality of an echinacea product based on phenolic content is like basing a decision on buying a car on iron content. (Products are usually based on a group of chemicals called phenolics.) Foster himself believes that “standardization is irrelevant to the biologic activity for the intended benefit [which is immune support].”

The bottom line: a body of research supports the use of fresh-expressed juice of Echinacea purpurea and root tinctures of all three species (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia, and E. pallida). One study supports the use of a particular tea (Traditional Medicinals’ Echinacea Plus). What about tablets and capsules made of chopped or ground echinacea? Foster dismisses such products as “junk.” One problem is that a chopped herb can quickly lose its potency; another is that no research backs up the use of such preparations.

Echinacea Dosages

Francis Brinker, N.D., offers the following dosage guidelines for using echinacea. These are general guidelines—be sure to check with your health-care practitioner to determine the right dose for you.

Root tincture: 2 droppersful (about sixty drops) every 2 hours while awake for the first day of symptoms, then reduce to 2 to 3 droppersful three to four times a day for ten days or until symptoms resolve.

Juice: 20 drops every 2 hours for the first day, then 20 drops three times a day for up to ten days. (Or about 8 to 9 ml—11/2 to almost 2 teaspoons—the first day; then 3 ml—just over 1/2 teaspoon—thereafter.)

Tea: Either add 4 teaspoons of chopped root per 2 cups of boiled water and simmer for 20 minutes, or steep 2 teaspoons of the dried, chopped herb per cup of boiled water for five to ten minutes. Strain and drink 3 to 6 cups a day.


Linda B. White, M.D. is coauthor of Kids, Herbs, & Health (Interweave, 1998) and  The Herbal Drugstore (Rodale, 2000).


Read more about herbal remedies for the flu: Natural Remedies for the Flu.