One of the best known health benefits of echinacea is its ability to strengthen the immune system.
It is very effective when used at the onset of a cold, flu, or other infection.
There are many other echinacea benefits as well, which we will get into in detail, as well as echinacea side effects and how to go about using echinacea to benefit your health.
Echinacea, commonly called purple coneflower, is a wonderful flowering herb that is not only beautiful growing in the garden but also a very beneficial herbal remedy for many ailments.
Echinacea effectively helps to improve the immune system’s function by promoting white blood cell production. These white blood cells in turn attack the bacteria and viruses that enter our bodies in order to prevent illness or infection.
It is also known to effectively reduce the duration of an illness, especially when used in combination with other herbal remedies such as garlic and vitamin C.
This can be good news for those with compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS or cancer. Echinacea is believed by some to be beneficial for AIDS and cancer patients due to its immune-strengthening properties, though the full effects of treating these illnesses with echinacea is still not known due to inadequate research.
Treating these conditions with echinacea is also somewhat controversial, and further research is needed before its complete safety is known. Those with compromised immune systems could potentially be allergic to echinacea. Care must be taken in these instances, and it’s best to take any new supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
In some parts of Europe, echinacea is injected intravenously as a supplemental treatment for those with certain forms of cancer as well as urinary tract infections.
Echinacea’s anti-viral and anti-fungal properties contribute to its effectiveness in fighting infections.
Treating skin conditions is another of the common health benefits of echinacea. Psoriasis and eczema are among the skin disorders that have been successfully treated with echinacea by using creams or ointments directly on the affected skin.
Echinacea has been noted to help prevent vaginal yeast infections when used in some medicated creams.
Other Reported Benefits of Echinacea
- Common cold
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Genital herpes
- Strep throat
- Hay fever
- Gum disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Skin wounds
Echinacea can be used fresh, utilizing the roots, leaves, and flowers, or it can be used in pre-made echinacea tea, tablet or capsule form, creams or ointments, tinctures, sprays, and liquid echinacea or extracts.
It is also available combined with other herbs, vitamins, and minerals that boost the immune system.
Take three times daily for up to two weeks. For slow-healing wounds, creams or ointments should be applied as needed.
Echinacea Side Effects & Contraindications
Allergies have been noted in those allergic to plants in the ragweed, mum, marigold, or daisy family. Use caution if you are using echinacea for the first time and have seasonal allergies to weeds or flowers.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take echinacea.
Do not take for more than 8 weeks at a time, as this can cause immune system suppression.
Also, as noted above, those with immune compromised conditions (such as lupus, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, and cancer) may be more susceptible to an allergic reaction to echinacea, and care should be taken in such cases.