What Are the Health Benefits of Echinacea?

Echinacea is one of the best selling herbs in America and Europe. It is an American wildflower and a perennial garden plant otherwise called Purple Cone flower. Echinacea would refer to the nine varieties of the same species of the Echinacea plant growing in the opens woods and road banks of the Great Plains and eastern regions of North America. It was perhaps the native Americans who found the medicinal properties of Echinacea and False Unicorn. Echinacea preparations are derived from three of the nine species namely Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida. Echinacea Purpurea is the most medicinal of the species. Americans believe a great deal in the medicinal uses of the plant and they use the root extract of Echinacea Purpurea. It is also one of the popular herbs in England.

Why is Echinacea so popular?

Echinacea is great for treating snake and insect bites, relieving sore throat, toothache, and healing measles, mumps and smallpox.

Echinacea is said to be a great blood purifier and an effective antibiotic.

The leaf and root are mildly antibacterial and antiviral and can help wound healing.

Echinacea has been used to help ward off the common cold and to relieve the symptoms of hay fever. It can help with upper respiratory tract infections. Hence is highly used in winter. Echinacea angustifolia is able to fight infections, blood disorders, septicemia etc. It can treat prophylaxis of URI. And there are no side effects.

An article by a famous newsgroup casts doubts on the effectiveness of the herb. There are also disagreements to the view that it stimulates or boosts the body’s immune system. An Ayurvedic expert comes up with the theory that Echinacea can be helpful only to Fire or Water-predominate people based on the Tridosha System. He says that it will have no effective on Air-dominant patients.

Here’s what Echinacea is made up of:

  1. polysaccharides
  2. essential oil
  3. polyacetylenes
  4. betain
  5. glycoside
  6. sesquiterpenes
  7. alkamides
  8. chicoric acid
  9. caryophylene
  10. Vitamin A, C and E
  11. copper
  12. iron
  13. tannins
  14. protein
  15. fatty acids

There is no solid proof of the efficacy of Echinacea. But studies in Germany proves that Echinacea Purpurea can strengthen the body’s immune system and also act as a natural remedy for ailments like cold and flu. Echinacea can certainly improve the immune system if not fully stimulate it. The polysaccharides increase the production of immune cells like T-cells. Also, by attaching themselves to the immune cells the polysaccharides activate them. Glycocide in Echinacea (echinacoside) will empower the immune further. It can enhance a weak immune system and increase the body’s ability to fight off any disease. Echinacea purpurea can thus ward off cold and fever.

Echinacea can improve the migration of white blood cells to attack foreign microorganisms and toxins in the bloodstream. Research supports the view that echinacea’s activity in the blood will help even in the defense of tumor cells.

A doctor of chiropractic medicine points out in his article on Echinacea that it is a natural antibiotic and more effective than antibiotics in fighting infections. While antibiotics deplete the immune system Echinacea can kill viruses by enhancing immunity. It also stimulates the guard cells of the body, Neutophils and t-lymphocytes.

Hence Echinacea can be used as an effective treatment for ailments like

-colds and the flu
-acne
-tonsillitis
-infections
-gangrene
-sore throat (gargle)
-fever
-teeth and gum disease
-boils
-and even snake bites

Many physicians in America do not support the use of Echinacea for the treatment of prophylaxis of URI. Though without any paperwork to support, it is said by some doctors there can be some mild effects in the reduction of the severity of the condition. But some side effects like nausea may appear. Studies are progressing in this area.

Echinacea angustifolia is also known as Kansas snake root. But the cheap Missouri snake root is sometimes mistakenly sold as Echinacea.

Additional Reading

Echinacea for the Prevention and Treatment of Colds in Adults: Research Results and Implications for Future Studies

5 Health Benefits of Echinacea

Disclaimer: The statements here are suggestions and we do not offer any medical advice. You should always consult your doctor or any qualified medical practitioner before buying any of our products.

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