Woman laying down blowing her nose

Immune System Boosters: The Differences & Benefits of Astragalus vs. Echinacea

Woman laying in bed blowing her nose

You know that feeling you get when a cold is coming on? That absolutely frustrating feeling that you’re getting sick and there isn’t much you can do about it? 

We’ve all been there. Fortunately, immune-boosting herbs like Astragalus and echinacea are here to help. These herbs have been traditionally used to support the immune system and may even fight off an oncoming cold or shorten it! 

But what is the difference between these two, and when should they be used? In this guide, we’re diving into how these herbs support the immune system, how they’ve been traditionally used, and what research today shows about them. 

Astragalus —“The Recruiter” 

Astragalus builds or “recruits” T-cells, strengthening the immune system. T-cells, or lymphocytes, are white blood cells that aid your immune system by fighting infection-causing germs, viruses, and bacteria, protecting you against illness. 

The really interesting part about T-cells is that each cell is uniquely designed to fight against one type of intruder. Essentially, your body detects an intruder, like a virus, then locates the T-cells specially created to fight it.

Supporting your immune system through healthy eating, exercise, and good sleep are all ways that you can boost your T-cells. 

In addition, herbs like Astragalus have traditionally been used to help with the “recruitment” process when your body detects an intruder, encouraging faster immune responses. Herbalists have also used Astralagus to promote shorter colds, nourish the adrenal glands, and increase antibodies. 

And, modern science backs this up! One study demonstrated that Astragalus enhanced T-cell activation, leading to the conclusion that this is likely why this herb has been used in treating immunosuppressive diseases for so long. 

Another study showed that Astragalus dosages increased T-cell percentages in the lymphoid tissues and circulation and may be a possible treatment option for sepsis-induced immunosuppression. 

Interested in supporting yourself with Astragalus? Try these incredible herbal remedies: 

  • Astragalus Capsules: These pure Astragalus capsules are a great way to support the immune system and may build resistance in cases of weakness and illness. They’re traditionally used to shorten a common cold! 
  • Astragalus/Marshmallow Capsules: This wombo combo supports healthy immune function by encouraging healthy T-cell count and antibodies with Astragalus. It also soothes inflamed mucous membranes, such as the stomach and small and large intestines, with marshmallow. 
  • Joyful Muscle Tea: Do you struggle with aches and pains? Whether you have pain from a chronic condition or are achy during the flu, this tea is a delightful choice. This soothing tea supports the body with Astragalus, Eleuthero, and antioxidant-rich herbs like rosemary and ginger. The included white willow encourages reduced pain and inflammation. (Learn more about white willow’s remarkable health benefits in our previous article here.)
  • Adrenal Support Capsules: These capsules are one of our favorite recommendations for supporting yourself during times of mental and physical stress. They promote healthy energy and an improved stress response, helping you combat symptoms and stress more effectively. 
  • Personal Immunity Capsules: This herbal formula has Astragalus and other immune system-supportive herbs. This blend may help mitigate a cold, especially one caused by stress or nervous tension. 

Echinacea — “The General”

While Astragalus “recruits” the immune system troops, echinacea sends them into battle against viruses and other intruders.  

Many have believed for decades that echinacea holds the key to preventing the common cold and other infections because it rallies the T-cell troops, ordering them into battle to fight off viruses quickly. 

Today, echinacea is one of the most popular herbs in America. Archaeologists have even found that Native Americans may have used this powerful herb over 400 years ago to treat wounds and as a “cure-all” remedy. 

A review of 14 clinical trials on echinacea’s immune system boosting benefits found that it reduced the odds of developing a cold by 58%. 

The review also found that it decreased the duration of a cold by one to four days! Overall, most studies found that using echinacea as early as possible in the course of a cold or illness (as soon as you feel it coming on) was the most effective way to use this herb. 

Another study indicated that echinacea is a “wide-spectrum immunomodulator” that supports and controls innate and adaptive immune responses. 

All this to say that echinacea has some outstanding research demonstrating that it may support the immune system and body, especially during illness, in several amazing ways!

Echinacea should be avoided by individuals with auto-immune conditions.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to incorporate this powerhouse herb into our lifestyle: 

  • Echinacea Root Capsules: Pure echinacea root encourages restoration and supports overall better immunity. It's long been used by herbalists for its immune system-stimulating properties, especially when you’re under the weather, struggling with allergies, or experiencing immune deficiencies. It may even help cleanse the blood! 
  • Echinacea Root Extract: Add 30 drops in a small glass of water three to six times daily or as directed by your physician for immune-stimulating benefits. This extract supports your body during colds, flu, sore throat, allergies, viral disease, and other immune deficiencies.
  • Echinacea Berry Tea: A naturally caffeine-free tea with a scrumptious, sweet, and tart taste from the strawberry, blackberry, and cranberry pieces. We love this antioxidant-rich tea whenever we’re feeling a little under the weather, and it’s delicious iced!


We know winter can be rough on the immune system because of the viruses circulating, chilly weather, and subsequent lack of sunlight and fresh air. We hope this article gave you some inspiration for ways to boost your immune system if you’re feeling compromised or under the weather! 

Warm Wishes, 

Herbalist Natalie & Herbalist Leilah

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