Cold and Flu Support: Echinacea and Elderberry

Cold and Flu Support: Echinacea and Elderberry

Echinacea and elderberry are herbs used to treat upper respiratory tract infections.

There are three main types of Echinacea used as herbal remedies: Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpura and E. pallida. Historically, Echinacea has been used by the Native Americans. The Eclectics used predominantly Echinacea angustifolia, while German herbalists used predominantly E. purpurea because it is the easiest to grow of all the species and the whole plant can be used in herbal remedies. Echinacea enhances innate immunity and resistance to infections; it supports the immune system as it fights allergies as well as autoimmune conditions. Echinacea has also anti-inflammatory properties and it is helps the body recover from chemotherapy. Clinical trials have supported the use of Echinacea in treating upper respiratory tract infections and enhancing immune function (Bone & Mills, 2013).  In-vitro studies have shown that Echinacea has some effect upon the influenza virus. A new Czech research published on Current Therapeutic Research shows that the combination of Echinacea and elderberry (Sambucus nigra), is more effective than Tamiflu in the early treatment of influenza.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is an anticatarrhal herb that exerts antiviral properties against flu viruses. According to Torabian et al. (2019) during the early stages of an infection, elderberry’s action blocks the flu viral proteins that are responsible for entry and attachment of viruses. If supplementation is started at the onset of the first symptoms, the viral infection can be inhibited almost completely. Even when the infection has already spread, elderberry can inhibit replication of the viral cells. it also stimulates cells to release cytokines which coordinates the responses to invading pathogens.


Bone, K. & Mills, S. (2013). Herbal therapeutic systems. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy.

Torabian, G., Valtchev, P., Adil, Q., & Dehghani, F. (2019). Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Journal of Functional Foods, 54, 353–360.

American & Asian Ginseng: The Differences & Similarities

American & Asian Ginseng: The Differences & Similarities

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is commonly referred to as Korean ginseng or Asian ginseng. Originally used in Chinese tradition medicine, it is now widely used in the Western world. According to the Chinese, ginseng has the ability to replenish the body’s energy and fluids and to promote good health and longevity. The main and lateral roots are traditionally used as medicinal ginseng; the smaller root hairs that are utilized in the West are of lower quality. Commercial ginseng is available as two different preparations: red ginseng and white ginseng. For red ginseng, the root is steamed unpeeled before drying, while the white form is peeled dried normally. In Chinese medicine, ginseng is used to treat severe respiratory illness and anxiety issues. In the west, ginseng is used to treat stomach and digestive issues, anorexia, and sexual disorders. The main and lateral roots contain saponins called ginsenosides as well as polysaccharides, essential oils, diacetylines, peptides, lipids, and arginine (Bone & Mills, 2013).

Similar to Asian ginseng, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolis) also turns red after steaming. While it does not have the same chemical makeup, American ginseng also contains ginsenosides. Both American and Asian ginseng are affected by the steaming process; some levels of ginsenosides are reduced after steaming. The saponins in American ginseng contribute to its antiproliferative effect which is greater than that of Asian ginseng (Wang et al, 2007).

Studies show that both Asian and American ginseng are helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes. They have also both been found to improve energy levels and overall quality of life in cancer patients. Other similarities concern immune-enhancing properties: both types of ginseng improve cold and flu symptoms. Both types are used to improve memory and cognition (Chen & Hui, 2012).  American and Asian ginseng are also used for their antioxidant properties. A small in vivo study showed that consumption of American ginseng tea has immediate antioxidant effect on cellular DNA, protecting it from oxidative stress (Szeto et al., 2015). A study conducted on the use of red Asian ginseng (the unpeeled, steamed kind) has shown antioxidant and chemoprotective properties (Dong et al., 2013).

As far as difference are concerned, American ginseng is more calming. It is utilized for the treatment of insomnia and for stress management. Asian ginseng has stimulating properties, and it is used for energy and even erectile disfunction (Chen et al., 2008).


Bone, K. & Mills, S. (2013). Herbal therapeutic systems. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy.

Chen, C. F., Chiou, W. F., & Zhang, J. T. (2008). Comparison of the pharmacological effects of Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolium. Acta pharmacologica Sinica, 29(9), 1103–1108.

Chen, E. Y., & Hui, C. L. (2012). HT1001, a proprietary North American ginseng extract, improves working memory in schizophrenia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 26(8), 1166–1172.

Dong, G. Z., Jang, E. J., Kang, S. H., Cho, I. J., Park, S. D., Kim, S. C., & Kim, Y. W. (2013). Red ginseng abrogates oxidative stress via mitochondria protection mediated by LKB1-AMPK pathway. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 13, 64.

Szeto, Y. T., Sin, Y. S., Pak, S. C., & Kalle, W. (2015). American ginseng tea protects cellular DNA within 2 h from consumption: results of a pilot study in healthy human volunteers. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 66(7), 815–818.

Wang, C. Z., Aung, H. H., Ni, M., Wu, J. A., Tong, R., Wicks, S., He, T. C., & Yuan, C. S. (2007). Red American ginseng: Ginsenoside constituents and antiproliferative activities of heat-processed Panax quinquefolius roots. Planta Medica, 73(7), 669–674.

Guilt-free Holiday Hot Cocoa Recipe

Nothing says “holidays” more than a hot cup of cocoa. The smell reminds me of home, winter, and childhood. I love hot cocoa, but I can’t stand the sugar-laden process stuff. If I am going to indulge, I want the real thing!

In the past few days, I have craved home and family time, and with it comes my craving for hot cocoa, my comfort Christmas beverage.

I have experimented with a few recipes, trying to marry Martha Stewart and primal living, and I think that no one out there will be dissatisfied with the recipe I came up with!

Makes 2 servings

  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup organic maple sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
  • 1/2 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons boiling water
  • 1-3/4 cups raw milk*
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup raw cream*
  • 1 tablespoon organic maple syrup
  • dash of cinnamon

*I buy Organic Pastures milk and cream. If you are intolerant or allergic to dairy or following a strict paleo diet, substitute for full-fat coconut milk.

Combine the cocoa, maple sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Stir the milk and heat until hot, but do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Divide between 2 mugs. Whip the cream and maple syrup. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa, with a dash cinnamon, enjoy and don’t burn your mouth!

Happy Holidays!

North Park Farmer’s Market

Here is tonight’s menu:

  • Dandelion greens sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil and garlic.
  • Tomato-avocado-olives salad with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and celtic sea salt.
  • Rack of lamb grilled medium rare.

There you go, a delicious, healthy meal in 20 minutes…

I feel so refreshed after a trip around the Farmer’s Market, where I am surrounded by the smells and colors of perfectly unperfect food. How strange, really, to walk into a supermarket and see rows and rows of identical tomatoes. I am already anticipating how juicy, sweet and unique each of my “unperfect” tomatoes will taste.

I can’t wait for Sunday’s Hillcrest Farmer’s Market. I need some more eggs.

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