Health Benefits of Echinacea

According to the American Botanical Council, “Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States increased by 7.9% in 2013, reaching six billion dollars for the first time!” Herbal sales have steadily climbed for the past 10 years! Would you believe that Echinacea leads in herbal sales! Echinacea used to be known as an alternative way to prevent the common cold but now it is well known for multiple health benefits. Because of its many health benefits, echinacea sales rose by 95% in 2013, and in 2014 sales of Echinacea rose to $28 million! echinacea-468437_960_720

Echinacea is an antibiotic. Before the widespread introduction of antibiotics in 1950, Echinacea was highly esteemed as an antibiotic. A lot of people consider Echinacea as the best herbal antibiotic because of its immune stimulating properties. It is useful in treating external and internal infections. It also serves as an effective treatment for severe infections such as blood poisoning, syphilis, scarlet fever, malaria and diphtheria.

Specific clinical trials on colds have shown that people who take Echinacea tea as soon as they feel sick reduce the severity of their cold and have fewer symptoms than those who do not take the herb. However, its effect on colds is still controversial.

2. Echinacea is an immune system booster. Echinacea also acts as a broad-spectrum immune-stimulant capable of supporting adaptive and innate immune responses. This herb also works in relieving symptoms and shortening the duration of both flu and colds. Take this herb for 4-6 weeks to maximize its effects in terms of strengthening your immune system.

Several studies suggest that echinacea boosts the immune function, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and has hormonal, antiviral, and antioxidant effects. The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that the immune system seems to be strongly influenced by the level of the echinacea dose. It appears that 10 milligrams of echinacea per one kilogram of body weight, taken daily over a 10-day period, is effective as an immune system stimulant.

3. Echinacea is a natural cancer treatment. The National Institute of Health (NIH) published research about Echinacea benefits regarding brain cancer. They said “The medicinal value of phytochemicals contained in Echinacea is clearly evident and indicates that these agents, as well as phytochemicals not yet discovered in other herbs, may be valuable tools to combat tumors.”

Echinacea is now being recommended as a natural cancer treatment either alone or together with conventional cancer therapies.

4. Echinacea is a painkiller. In the olden days echinacea purpurea was used by the Great Plains Indians as a painkiller. It’s especially effective for

  • Pain in the bowels and headaches.
  • Pain associated with HSV (Herpes), gonorrhea and measles.
  • Snake bites.
  • Sore throats, tonsillitis and toothache

Some common ways to use echinacea to combat pain is to drink the herbal tea, or even make a paste out of the ground herb and rub it directly on the area that is affected.

5. Echinacea functions as a Laxative. Echinacea heals the stomach and the entire digestive system. According to Medical Herbalism Echinacea in the form of tea can be used as a mild laxative to relieve constipation naturally. For more chronic conditions, a cup of tea every day can help loosen the bowels. You may want to take 2 cups per day if you have a particularly bad case of constipation. Like any other herb, Echinacea has powerful phytochemicals so be sure not to over-use it, limiting your tea to two cups a day. At the same time change your diet to make sure you have more fiber daily.

6. Echinacea is an anti-inflammatory. Most of the diseases that plague people these days are based on inflammation. Acidosis and too many toxins in the body are the main culprits. Regular consumption of Echinacea can effectively reverse and alleviate various types of inflammation. This is backed by scientific research at various universities.

It is wise, however, to change diet to organic food to reduce consumption of harmful chemicals in food (fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, etc). It is also wise to eat fresh food to reduce the consumption of other harmful chemicals like preservatives, food colorants, acidifiers, emulsifiers, taste enhancers, etc. Overall it is wise to reduce the consumption of acid-producing foods like all meats, all dairy products, refined carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol.

This implies you will want to thrive to eat organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains whenever possible.

7. Echinacea heals the skin. Echinacea has been used by various Native American tribes to treat arthropod bites, eczema, inflammatory skin conditions, psoriasis, snakebite, skin infections, and stings. It has also been used to assist wound healing and to regenerate skin.

8. Echinacea relieves problems of the upper respiratory system. As we said above, Echinacea boosts the immune system and it has anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore it is useful in cases of acute sinusitis, flu, common colds, croup, diphtheria, strep throat, coughs associated with tuberculosis, and whooping cough. For more severe issues, concentrated echinacea in the form of pills is required.

9. Echinacea angustifolia is the species found to help in cases of ADD/ADHD. In fact it can be considered one of the natural remedies for ADHD, especially where anxiety, depression and social phobias are concerned. Experts recommend 20 milligrams at a time. Taking more than 20 milligrams per dose might even cancel out the echinacea benefits that relieve anxiety.

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References

University of Maryland Medical Center, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide

Yamada K, Hung P, Park TK, Park PJ, Lim BO. A comparison of the immunostimulatory effects of the medicinal herbs Echinacea, Ashwagandha and Brahmi. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;137(1):231-5.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266016.php, 9 September, 2014

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender

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