Essentially, Echinacea has been used for a long time by Native American Indians to fight and prevent infections such as colds, coughs, and flu. Some of the medicinal and health property include potent antimicrobial, immune-boosting, antiexudative, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral activity in the body. Over time, advanced technologies, and discoveries have intensified the medicinal and immunological benefits of this incredible plant. It has been applied in the treatment of urinary tract infections, gum disease, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, syphilis, malaria, and bloodstream infections. Besides, it is used to treat external infections such as boils, insect bites, sunburns, skin wounds, and eczema. An interaction between Echinacea and goldenseal reduces sinus and upper respiratory infections and boosts the antimicrobial activity of the body. Some of the health and medicinal benefits of Echinacea have been discussed below.
Treatment of common cold
Echinacea is used to treat and prevent the common cold. A publication in “The Lancet Infectious Diseases,” 2007 has shown that Echinacea supplements increases the number of white blood cells, which helps to fight infections associated with common cold and other infections in the upper respiratory tract. It helps to lowers and treats colds, flu, coughs, sore throat, and bronchitis; it also prevents them from developing. A further research conducted in 2006 by Dr. Sachin A. Shah at the University of Connecticut reported that Echinacea lowers the incidences of the common cold by more than 60% and its duration reduced by almost two days.
Antiviral and antimicrobial property
Echinacea has antiviral and antimicrobial activity; a study on “Biomedicine and Biotechnology”, 2011 have shown that Echinacea purpurea extracts contain potent and specific antimicrobial property. It facilitates antibacterial and antiseptic properties that destroy bacteria and microbial proliferating conditions. Besides, other studies have indicated that Echinacea contains phenols compounds that act as potent antioxidants; they are active ingredients that destroy toxic free radicals that may have accumulated in the body. The polyphenols protect the body from infections, UV radiation damage, improves cardiovascular health and lowers disorders such as cancer and other chronic diseases.
Echinacea purpurea enhances the natural anti-inflammatory property on acne infections; a phytotherapy study published in “Phytomedicine”, 2011 has shown that its extracts contain potent anti-inflammatory application that helps reduce irritations caused by dermatological conditions to the skin. It inhibits the effects of acne proliferating bacteria; the anti-inflammation effect lowers conditions associated with such as swelling, itching, and redness.
It provides health benefits to the liver; In a study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” , 2011, Echinacea root extracts contains alkamides tetraenoic acid and isobutylamides compounds that exhibits anti-inflammatory effect that protects the hepatic tissues against acute fulminant hepatitis. Besides, the alkylamides compounds lower the inflammatory infections that cause influenza A.
Echinacea is an effective skin Moisturizer; in a study published in “International Journal of Cosmetic Science”, 2010, Echinacea purpurea contains supplements that moisturize the skin and improve hydration of the stratum corneum, which reduces water loss from skin, remove excess oil, and boosts skin softness and elasticity. Besides, it facilitates secretion of sebum that provides nourishment to the skin tissues, thus moisturizing the skin.
Boosts the immune system
Echinacea extracts boosts the Immune System; In a study published in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”, 2011, fructofuranosides polysaccharides such as heteroxylan and arabinogalactan, and alkylamides compounds contained in the extracts enhances immunostimulatory property including macrophage and lymphocyte effects, thus ensuring a highly effective immune system which offers protection against pathogenic infections that cause diseases. Also, when complimented with other medicinal herbs, it increases the immunoglobulin secretion that boosts the immune system.
Possible side effects
It is important to note that, Echinacea usually causes mild side effects when taken orally, for instance, temporary numbness and tingling of the tongue. Individuals on immunosuppressant medication and patients diagnosed with disorders such as tuberculosis, diabetes, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, connective tissue, or other autoimmune disorders are advised not to use Echinacea products. In some cases, Echinacea may cause mild or severe allergic reactions, including rashes, anaphylaxis, gastrointestinal effects, and increased asthma. Individuals with an allergy to ragweed, marigolds, and related allergens should be cautious while using Echinacea. Also, Lactating and pregnant mothers are discouraged from taking the product though there are no intensified scientific studies made to determine its effects. Patients on medication should always seek advice from the physician before using the Echinacea products.
Conclusively, various scientific researches have confirmed the remarkable health and medicinal benefits of Echinacea. The essential active ingredients contained in the plant that includes phenols, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkylamides or alkamides makes it one of the beneficial, highly efficient and incredible medicinal herbs. The ingredients facilitate its tremendous immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, which boost the entire body health and reduce incidences of diseases.