My immune system seems quite depressed lately. About three weeks ago, I had an infection in my ear canal (cellulitis), which I treated with antibiotic ear drops and an oral antibiotic. About a week after I stopped taking the antibiotics, I came down with a cold. About three days after that cold seemed over, I was hit with a horrible cold that left me completely wiped out. I’m not sure if it was a “relapse” or a new virus that caused it.

Before I was diagnosed with LADA over seven years ago, I took echinacea at the first sign of a cold and it worked well for me. Since LADA is an autoimmune disease, I’ve avoided echinacea ever since the diagnosis.

What do y’all think about taking echinacea? Since I know that my body is producing very little insulin these days, part of me says, “Why not? What can it really hurt since my pancreas is toast anyway?” OTOH, there’s an awful lot about diabetes that I don’t know.

If you have other ideas for boosting the immune system to ward off colds, etc., please let me know about them. My diet is quite healthy since I’m a vegetarian and I take a multivitamin every day plus a B complex vitamin and vitamin E on alternating days.

(I’m going to post this in the Type 1 forum, too, so I apologize in advance if you get it twice!)

Thanks for sharing your wisdom. :slight_smile:

Hi Janet,

I wasn’t aware there where any complications with diabetes and echinacea - what is the relation to the pancreas?

For myself, I was just DX in January and every month I caught some sort of illness until July - since then cross
my fingers I’ve been good - even when my 4 year old had a cold, I didn’t catch it!. This has been uplifting because
I thought I was facing being sick all the time.
Just this past weekend I did feel like I was coming down with a cold - started super dosing Vit C and using Deep Immune by St Fracis which is an Astragalus formulation and I seem to be winning.



My concern was that echinacea boost the immune system – and my immune system is already attacking my pancreas. Will echinacea speed up that attack?

Have you tried Emergen-C? It works pretty well for me.


Hi Janet,

I never even thought of that!! I googled echinacea and autoimmune disease and it does seem there
could be contradictions - I’m sure it would be the same with Astragalus as well as it boosts the immune system. I found the below statement on the St Francis website…

Many references contraindicate use of echinacea in autoimmune and progressive systematic disease. Herbal authorities Berris Burgoyne and Kerry Bone explain that “from a rational perspective… Echinacea is positively indicated in a number of autoimmune diseases and is without adverse effects. While more research is needed to understand the role of Echinacea across a wider variety of autoimmune diseases, the theoretical concern expressed by some authorities in the 20th century that Echinacea was contraindicated for this class of disorder is looking to be exactly that: theoretical only”.

Not sure what to make of the above I have a follow up appointment with my Naturopath in December and will definetly add this question to the list.

I have used Emergen-C in the past and I find it does wonders. I haven’t used it since I was dx because of the sweet taste I thought it probably has a lot of sugar in it. I guess I should look at the ingredients to see. Since I’m a type 1 I’m very insulin sensitive.


Thanks a lot for researching this, Sharon! I have been diagnosed with LADA in July and like every year, when the cold season hit at the end of September, I started taking Echinacea, on and off… no idea what it has done to my pancreas in the meantime but I’ll immediately throw away the rest of the package! Looking forward to hearing what your naturopath says.

I have often wondered if echinecea sparked the autoimmune attack on my pancreas…I was Dx 4 years ago…before that I took echinecea religiously because it seemed someone was always coming to work (office environment) with a bad cold…(pet peeve of mine). I rarely got sick when taking echinecea…but since my Dx…I no longer take it…not willing to chance it until someone proves it otherwise…I mean what can my immune system decide to attack next?

My take on this is that I’ve been told that with any kind of autoimmune disease, you don’t take echinacea long-term. Some say that ANY echinacea is out.

Echinacea contains lectin that stimulates cytokine secretion by lymphocytes and their proliferation. That causes a general stimulation to the immune system and makes it more aggressive. Certainly for people with autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Sjogrens etc, echinacea is out.

While it might be good for a cold or sore throat, it’s not good for the rest of the autoimmune process. In some people echinacea can exacerbate asthma too.

On the other hand, if your c-peptide is already whacked out, a couple of days on echinacea may not make that any worse.

Having said that, and while I’m not advising anyone to do this, when I get a sore throat that threatens to turn into a cold, I take a preparation (called Zinc Fix - available in Australia) that contains Vitamin C (1000mg) , zinc in various forms (100mg), magnesium in various forms (30mg), betacarotene (170mcg), and Vitamin B6 (5mg). It has worked a treat for years - no echinacea anywhere. I would only need to take this for a max of 2-3 days. Sometimes even one dose does the trick.

On the other hand, I recently told a friend about this supplement and it made him feel absolutely horrid. I scored a full bottle from him! I’m incredibly drug sensitive and this prep works great for me and sore throats turn into colds about once every 2 or 3 years. Yet I get them regularly, particularly when I’m around people who already have a cold.

Clearly something’s going on with you. Despite being a vegetarian, you could still be lacking something or the food balance may not be quite right for you at this time. Are you stressed? Does your multivitamin contain enough Vitamin C, or are you getting enough from food? I don’t know your age, but are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Maybe vary your diet eating less cooked food, or vary the food altogether, or include some vegetable juices (not fruit).You need a good juicer that doesn’t destroy enzymes - I do one with celery, tomato, spinach, raw garlic, a tiny bit of beetroot and a bit of salt and pepper. Always makes me feel great! It does need a little bolus though.

Oh yeah, and pamper yourself a little. It does wonders! A massage, a bath with your favourite oils… anything you like to make you feel less run-down!

I’m LADA too and have Lupus, another autoimmune disease, and I used to take echinacea for a couple of days with a sore throat until someone explained why I shouldn’t with Lupus. No idea if it’s the same with T1/LADA, but apparently GAD antibodies continue to be present in many T1s even after they’ve destroyed cells. Who knows what they’re still doing!

Oops… forgot the cucumber in the juice recipe! Sorry!