Echinacea has been utilized for generations by native Americans for treating a variety of illnesses. It is best recognized nowadays as a herbal over-the-counter treatment for infections, mainly flu, upper respiratory infections, or the common cold. Moreover, it’s employed to cure other medical conditions including migraines, pain, swelling, herpes simplex infection (topical), urinary tract infection, skin ulcers (topical), and other health disorders.
Several flowering plants belonging to the daisy family are collectively referred to as echinacea. They naturally develop in prairies and open land. Echinacea comes in nine widely recognized varieties although three of the species, Echinacea Purpurea (has purple petals), Echinacea Angustifolia (has slander petals), and Echinacea Pallida (has pale petals), are the only ones that are utilized as herbal supplements.
The plant’s leaves, flowers, and roots are both used in pills, tinctures, teas, and extracts. The numerous species might each offer some sort of health advantage. Although this herb is used in traditional medicine, its potential health advantages are yet to be confirmed. Additionally, studies have connected echinacea and its constituents to a variety of health advantages, including lowered levels of blood sugar, enhanced immunity, and decreased inflammation.
The astonishing range of active substances found in echinacea includes caffeic acid, phenolic acids, alkamides, rosmarinic acid, polyacetylenes, and several others. These plants are linked to sunflowers and ragweed. The Great Plains Indian tribes utilized echinacea in their traditional herbal treatments. It also appears to have several compounds that can directly combat yeast and different fungus. Echinacea products that are sold commercially exist in a variety of formats, like tablets, tea, and juice.
This plant is also known as Black Sampson, Indian Head, Black Susans, Red Sunflower, Hedgehog, Kansas Snakeroot, Rock-Up-Hat, etc. There are certain items of this plant in the market which raise questions about the quality. Despite what the label indicates, echinacea products are often falsely labelled and some might not even contain the herb. One shouldn’t be misled by the word ‘standardized’. This doesn’t always mean the labels are accurate.
Moreover, some of these products contain arsenic, selenium, and lead contamination. The root has a strong flavour and tingles the lips and tongues when it is chewed. Claims of the patient’s therapeutic benefits throughout the 1800s included everything from the purification of blood to the cure of vertigo and rattlesnake stings. The extract of this plant was utilized as an anti-infective at the beginning of the 20th century but their use was discontinued when newer antibiotics were discovered.
The plant’s extracts are still applied locally to heal wounds and taken internally to boost the immune system. In addition to treating ear infections, echinacea was used for improving athletic performance. However, studies suggest that this plant might not be useful in treating certain ailments. Other uses that have not been supported by the study include the treatment of anxiety, low levels of white blood cells, bladder infections, tonsillitis, genital herpes, migraine headache, and other disorders.
The Food and Drug Administration has not authorized the use of echinacea for medical purposes and it might or might not be useful in the treatment of any illness. This herb must not be substituted for any medication that any doctor has prescribed. Many people are unaware of how drastically different the chemical composition of the plant’s root is from its top portion. Analysis of the purple coneflower’s roots reveals that they contain significant amounts of volatile oils.
Whereas, the sections which grow above the soil typically have higher quantities of polysaccharides, which are known to stimulate an immunological response. Several of the chemical components of echinacea are potent immune stimulators and have great therapeutic efficacy. Some popularly identified ingredients in this plant are inulin, vitamin C, flavonoids, polysaccharides, and essential oils.
In addition to claims that the plant’s extracts are extremely nutritious, it is also known that the part of echinacea that develops above the ground is the most efficient. Certain species of this plant such as purpurea and angustifolia are sought after due to their alkylamide composition. It is frequently consumed as a tincture, though dry capsules are also widely used.
Every kind of echinacea contains phenols, just like several other plants. The action of multiple cell receptors and enzymes is regulated by phenols. They shield the plants from diseases and damage caused by UV rays, and they might even have healthy antioxidant capabilities. Echinacea has been also researched for its potential to quicken the healing process after illness, although the available data is highly uncertain.
Benefits of Echinacea
There are many noteworthy health advantages of echinacea such as-
Helps In Combating Cancer
The National Institute of Health has released some fascinating studies on the advantages of echinacea for brain cancer. The medical potential of the phytochemicals found in this plant is greatly visible according to researchers. They suggest that such agents and phytochemicals that are still not found in other herbs, may be effective tumour fighting agents.
Scientists have recently recommended echinacea as another complementary cancer treatment along with traditional treatments. According to one test-tube investigation, one extract of echinacea purpurea and chicoric acid which is a natural component of this plant was demonstrated to cause the death of cancer cells. These extracts also inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
In another experiment, extracts of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida) destroyed colon and pancreatic cancer cells in a test tube by inducing apoptosis, or regulated cell death. It is thought that immune-stimulating components of echinacea cause this effect.
Conventional cancer medicines like doxorubicin were once thought to interfere with echinacea, but more recent investigations have found no evidence of this. However, human investigations are required before making any suggestions.
Boosts Our Immune System
The advantages that echinacea has for our immunity are its most well-known benefits. A meta-analysis used 14 trials to assess the effects of echinacea. It is found that this plant can decrease the likelihood of contracting the common cold by around 58%. It almost halved the typical cold’s duration by around 1.5 days.
These medicines are among the many efficient treatments for both avoiding and curing colds because of this very reason. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, the amount of echinacea taken appears to have a significant impact on immunity. It seems that echinacea works like an immunity booster when consumed regularly for 10 days at a dose of 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
Additionally, research from the medical journal Hindawi, suggests that this plant prevents colds brought on by viruses. The effects of echinacea on recurring infections were, nevertheless, the most notable outcomes of its advantages. Research to date suggests that this herb probably lessens cold symptoms. However, it appears that the impacts of echinacea are stronger after cold symptoms begin.
Plant extracts reduced inflammation and decreased the chance of developing bacterial problems in addition to being effective against viral respiratory infections, such as the flu. Numerous research on the subject, nevertheless, have a weak design and offer little genuine value. Due to this, it can be difficult to determine if using this herb is beneficial for a cold or whether it is a random occurrence. In conclusion, echinacea might increase immunity, but it is unknown how it can affect the common cold.
Helps In Reducing Pain
Echinacea purpurea was first utilized by the Great Plain Indians as a painkiller, which is how the history of this herb began. It works very well to treat pains related to the bowels, headaches, stomach issues, tonsillitis, HSV (herpes), gonorrhea, measles, serpent bites, throat aches, and toothache.
According to recent studies, echinacea purpurea and angustifolia might stimulate our endocannabinoid system, improving its pain-relieving properties. The herb has been in vitro and in vivo trials to lessen inflammatory pain, like burns and arthritis. Drinking herbal echinacea tea or making a paste from the dried herb and rubbing it straight to the painful area are a few common ways of using echinacea products for reducing pain.
Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
The majority of diseases have an inflammatory component. Inflammation can occasionally become out of control and persist longer than intended and necessary. This could increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses and different health issues.
Fortunately, as stated by the University of British Columbia, frequent echinacea use can successfully prevent and reduce different kinds of inflammation. Also, the inflammation of the eyes, known as uveitis, may be helped by echinacea-containing products. Those with chronic inflammatory diseases would benefit from routinely consuming herbal tea to lessen overall inflammation. Echinacea has been found in numerous trials to help lessen overactive inflammation.
In mouse research, the chemicals of the herb reduced significant inflammatory markers and inflammation-related memory loss. In a different 30-day research, persons with osteoarthritis discovered that taking a pill containing echinacea extracts dramatically decreased soreness, chronic pain, and swelling. Notably, echinacea extract-containing supplements were effective for these adults even though they didn’t react well to traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
Helpful In Treating Skin Conditions
Echinacea is also advantageous for the skin for enhancing common skin concerns such as moisture and minimizing wrinkles. According to research, applying skincare items with this herb’s extracts could assist in improving skin health.
Moreover, it causes no reactions like skin irritation, etc. In test-tube research, scientists discovered that echinacea’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects of echinacea inhibited the development of Propionibacterium, a frequent acne-causing bacteria.
It has been demonstrated that a cream containing extracts of echinacea purpurea can lessen symptoms of eczema and aid in repairing the skin’s thin, defensive outermost layer. Echinacea extract doesn’t seem to have a long shelf life, which makes it challenging to include in industrial skincare items.
Helps In Improving Mental Health
The recommended variety of echinacea to treat particular attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) related conditions is echinacea angustifolia. This herb is one of the most frequently prescribed herbal remedies in case of behavioral symptoms in one study on the utilization of herbs in children suffering from ADHD or depression.
This herb has gained recognition as a potential anxiety treatment in recent times. According to research, echinacea contains substances like rosmarinic acid, alkamides, and caffeic acid that might help people feel less anxious. Dosage is crucial in this case. The maximum dosage that should be taken at once is 20 milligrams. In contrast, the benefits of this plant for reducing anxiety can be counteracted by consuming more than the recommended dosage.
One research discovered that extract of echinacea angustifolia significantly decreased anxiety in rats and people. However, there are currently very few investigations related to echinacea and anxiety. Further research is required before echinacea medicines are suggested as a potential treatment.
Improves Upper Respiratory Problems
Research suggests that echinacea might help to alleviate certain symptoms of upper respiratory disorders due to its immunity-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties like chronic sinusitis, all kinds of flu, asthma, typical cold, diphtheria, inflammation, throat infection, whooping cough, etc.
Moreover, in one clinical study echinacea was performed in the same manner as classic synthetic drugs for treating asthma. Researchers stated in their study that recent investigations have demonstrated that echinacea preparations can reverse the release of cytokines in the bronchial epithelial cells related to asthma.
The bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb in particular were notable which gave a scientific ground for using echinacea in traditional medicine as an additional treatment of allergy problems of the respiratory system, like asthma. Though this herb has been used as prophylaxis in case of infections in the upper respiratory tract, there is little proof of its effectiveness.
Helps In Fighting Infection
Echinacea works wonders as a treatment for a wide range of infections. According to one study, using a medicated cream on the skin and taking echinacea together can reduce the risk of recurrent vaginal infections by up to 16%. This is in comparison to only taking the medicines alone. Moreover, this plant is also helpful in cases of bloodstream illness, genital herpes, gum illness, malaria, typhoid, infections of the urinary tract, and yeast infections in the vagina.
Acts As A Laxative
Echinacea like several other herbs is very beneficial for our stomach and whole gastrointestinal tract. For instance, it has been demonstrated to function as a moderate laxative that relieves constipation and functions as a soothing agent, claims Medical Herbalism. Herbal tea consumption is especially useful in this case.
Two to three cups of tea daily could be helpful in case of sporadic spells of constipation, while one cup daily might help in case of more chronic disorders. Avoid using this plant excessively, nevertheless, to lower the possibility of negative effects. For being safe, one should ensure to drink no more than two cups of tea each day and consume supplements as recommended on the labels.
Uses of Echinacea
Many common problems, like the common cold and aged skin, can be prevented and treated with echinacea. According to controlled studies and research reviews, this herb is used for preventing and reducing the symptoms and duration of colds and flu. Echinacea-containing medicines are now used by individuals all over the world to help treat a variety of ailments, including bronchitis, cough, upper respiratory illness, anxiety, low white blood cell count, canker sores, influenza, yeast and ear infections, HIV, AIDS, certain inflammatory disorders, typhoid, malaria, dizziness, etc.
Furthermore, echinacea may be used to speed the healing of wounds by certain persons and in case of chronic fatigue syndrome and warts. Nevertheless, the majority of the data is anecdotal. There aren’t many studies that back up the usage of this herb as a therapy. However, numerous studies in the scientific community have shown that consuming certain echinacea medications while cold symptoms first appear will slightly lessen symptoms in adults.
Yet, different studies demonstrate no advantages. The issue is that several echinacea plant varieties and processing techniques have been utilized in scientific investigations. Different research has demonstrated different outcomes because the pattern of investigations was not similar. The advantage will be probably minimal at most if it is helpful in the treatment of colds.
In this case, also, there is conflicting evidence on echinacea’s ability to prevent the common cold. According to some research, consuming echinacea can lower the chance of getting a cold by 45% to 58%. However, some studies indicate that eating this herb while being subjected to cold viruses doesn’t shield one from getting the common cold. Because the content of commercial echinacea products varies, particular suggestions for using it for any condition are unreliable.
Side Effects of Echinacea
It is crucial to be aware that consuming excess echinacea might have adverse effects. High amounts of this plant’s extracts have been known to make people feel nauseous and dizzy, especially if they have allergies. As a result, it is not thought to be safe for utilization in treating conditions like seasonal allergies.
Echinacea injections have also been linked to more serious side effects including diarrhea, dryness in mouth, disorientation, fever, headache, sleeplessness, pain in joints and muscles, vomiting, stomach pain, and sore throat. An allergic reaction is also possible from echinacea, therefore one is advised to consume it gradually in modest doses. People should not consume more than what is safe and advised. If one habitually utilizes supplements, they should pause the consumption for every few weeks to prevent long-term overuse.
Products containing echinacea seem to be secure and well-tolerated when used for a brief period. People have reported adverse effects like rashes, unpleasant taste, hives, itching, and swelling. However, these are more prevalent in the case of those who are allergic to other flowers like daisies, marigolds, ragweed, chrysanthemums, etc.
Those suffering from autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, leukosis, multiple sclerosis, hepatic impairment, or using immunosuppressive medications should stay away from echinacea or discuss with doctors first as it seems to boost immunity.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the consequences of using echinacea for a long time are not known, but short-term oral usage is likely harmless. They have also stated that there is probably little chance that this herb will interact with other drugs. This plant has been utilized for 10 days in a variety of liquid and solid formulations. Moreover, certain products like Echinaforce have been safely utilized for 6 months.
Rarely, echinacea has been known to result in liver inflammation. It is okay to use an echinacea-containing cream for 12 weeks. Applying echinacea on the skin may result in a rash, itching, or redness. Its use should be avoided in people who are known to be hypersensitive to plants in the Compositae/Asteraceae family.
Dosage of Echinacea
Echinacea is offered over the counter in a variety of locations, including pharmacies, grocery stores, online retailers, health food stores, and also pharmacies. It can be purchased in a variety of forms, such as liquid extracts, dried herbs, pills, capsules, and also echinacea tea.
According to some reports, echinacea appears to work best when consumed immediately when the symptoms begin and taken several times per day for 7-10 days. Liquid echinacea might be more beneficial than capsules because of the absorption rate. Due to a wide variation in the result findings of echinacea, at present, there isn’t any officially approved dosage. However, studies show that these doses work well for boosting immunity-
- Echinacea dry powdered extract- 300-500 mg, three times a day.
- Liquid extract tinctures- 2.5 ml, thrice each day or for 10 ml every day.
- Herb juice- 6-9 ml orally every day or 20 drops every minute orally every 2 hours for 24 hours then continue three times each day.
- Cure herb extract- 2 tablets orally thrice each day.
One should use echinacea precisely as instructed on the label or as the doctor instructs. Never use more, less, or for a longer period than advised. Depending on the type of echinacea one is using, the doses change. Echinacea should not be used simultaneously in different forms without consulting a doctor to avoid the risk of overdose.
Hence, in certain research, echinacea was found to be extremely beneficial for humans and it has proved to enhance immunity, skin health, anxiety, control blood sugar, etc. It may even have anti-cancer qualities. Yet, human-based research is frequently restricted. Despite being commonly used for treating common colds, the outcomes in this regard are conflicting.
For short-term use, echinacea is regarded as secure and well-tolerated and the effects on our body due to long-term usage are yet unknown. Despite this, though few items have similar possible immunity-boosting properties as echinacea, it may be worthwhile to give it a try. To test the effectiveness of using this herb, one might grow echinacea and create homemade extracts.
Thank you for reading!
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