If you are looking for an all-in-one medicinal plant – one that offers top-down health benefits, then the Echinacea plant is a good choice!
Echinacea is a traditional alternative medicine that takes its name from a group of flowering plant in a daisy family native to North America.
Known under its different types (Echinacea pallida, E. angustifolia and E. purpurea), Echinacea has medicinal properties through its flowers, leaves and roots.
E. pallida has narrow petals, E. Angustifolia has pale petals, while E. purpurea has purple petals.
It is commonly cultivated in the eastern Rocky Mountains of the United States and is commonly used to reduce inflammation in the body.
But other than that, it’s also often included in a healthy diet to boost the immune system.
That is why Echinacea is a good home remedy for colds and flu.
During flu season, this herb can help your body fight viral infections.
Sounds interesting, right?
If you want to know more about the beneficial effects and uses of this herb, read on.
What Echinacea is Used For
High in Antioxidants
A plant rich in antioxidants is a plant that can fight diseases and illnesses.
Antioxidants play an important role in inhibiting the growth and multiplication of free radicals in the body.
And with Echinacea, you can find high levels of antioxidants in its fruits and flowers, such as rosmarinic acid, flavonoids, and cichoric acid.
If you want to defend your immune cells against oxidative stress and other serious health issues like heart disease and diabetes, Echinacea extract is a good choice for you!
And when its antioxidant properties are depleted, the echinacea plants have a powerful compound called alkamides that is responsible for renewing and further enhancing antioxidant activity.
Positive Effect on the Immune System
One of the notable uses of Echinacea is to boost the immune system.
Whether you are sick or well, this plant is a good herbal remedy to fight viruses and infections, and even achieve rapid recovery.
That being said, echinacea herbal tea is perfect for the flu season.
This fact has been proven by 14 research studies that result in a 50% decrease in the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections or cold symptoms with a faster rate of recovery.
This is also due to the plant’s ability to boost immunity.
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
We all know that an increase in blood sugar levels in the body can put anyone at high risk of developing serious illnesses such as heart problems and type 2 diabetes.
Echinacea is a proven herb that contains chemical compounds to help lower blood sugar levels.
This was proven after a series of test-tube studies were conducted.
In these scientific studies, Echinacea Purpurea extract was found to contain enzymes that suppress the digestion of carbohydrates, thereby reducing the amount of sugar entering the bloodstream.
Meanwhile, in other test-tube studies, it was also found that liquid extracts from the plant can make cells more sensitive to the effects of insulin.
When taken with diabetes medicines, it can amplify the PPAR-γ receptor, which is a receptor that removes excess fat from the blood.
The result is an increase in insulin sensitivity.
But because the evidence was not yet so concrete, human studies are needed, particularly on the effects of echinacea on blood sugar.
May Help Reduce Anxiety
The growing number of patients in the United States being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is an alarming problem.
Although there may be different medical treatments and drugs to treat this, some still resort to natural means.
Such is the use of the Echinacea plant, known to contain compounds that can reduce feelings of anxiety.
These compounds are the caffeic acid, alkamides, and rosmarinic acid.
In an animal study, 3 out of 5 mice that received echinacea samples showed a significant reduction in their anxiety level.
Another study in mice and humans was also conducted to show the effects of Echinacea angustifolia on the subjects’ anxiety levels, and the result showed the same.
As there are only a handful of laboratory studies conducted to prove it, the use of echinacea products in the treatment of anxiety always requires the recommendations and medical advice of a healthcare provider to prevent common side effects.
Contains Anti-inflammatory Properties
When there are signs of inflammation, it shows that the body is fighting the infection.
However, severe inflammation can mean something else.
Sometimes, when taken lightly, it can get out of hand and cause serious health problems later.
This is the case with certain chronic conditions.
In order to help the body defend itself against viral and bacterial infections and promote faster recovery, anti-inflammatory treatments, medications, and herbal remedies are often recommended.
Fortunately, Echinacea contains anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a good option for treating inflammation, especially sore throat.
This has been proven by several clinical trials especially in the study of mice.
The results obtained from these numerous studies proved that Echinacea contains compounds that can reduce inflammatory markers and prevent memory loss caused by inflammation.
On the other hand, human studies have also been conducted to prove its effects in reducing inflammation, pain, and chronic swelling.
For 30 days, adults with rheumatoid arthritis were tested with an echinacea supplement, and the result was a significant reduction in symptoms.
May Help Treat Skin Problems
Interestingly, due to the chemical compounds in the Echinacea plant, it can be a good herbal medicine for some skin problems.
This was due to their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which were discovered in a test-tube study.
These properties have been shown to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria called propionibacterium.
But other than that, Echinacea extract can also be a good active ingredient in some skin care products.
In a human study of echinacea skin care products, 10 healthy people between the ages of 25 and 40 were tested and the result was less wrinkles and improved hydration of the skin.
In addition, cream containing Echinacea purpurea extract has also been shown to reduce symptoms of eczema and aid in skin repair.
Research shows the ability of Echinacea to reduce anxiety and inflammation, and improve skin health and immunity.
But since most of these are animal studies, the scientific evidence is not yet so concrete.
Yet the results of these clinical studies have given promising hope to many people, especially those with chronic illnesses.
If you want to take echinacea herbal products and dietary supplements, it is a good idea to consult a health care provider first to prevent any signs of severe allergic reactions or adverse effects.
It can also be safe to take echinacea herbal supplements in the right doses and for short periods of time.