Echinacea is a powerful and beneficial herb used by people around the world to maintain good health. Every part of the plant, from the roots to the flower petals, is bursting with vital nutrients. With a reputation as a natural cold remedy, many people enjoy echinacea in one form or another, whether as a tea, a supplement, or even the raw plant. Here, we’ll look at ten impressive ways echinacea can support your health.
What Is Echinacea?
A flowering plant native to North America, echinacea has dotted the American landscape in one form or another for hundreds of years. Initially prized by the Native American Sioux Indians as a remedy for snakebites, colic, and infections, it went on to become a wellness staple until the advent of antibiotics. Today, echinacea remains one of America’s most beloved and widely used herbs. Natural cold remedies, cough drops, and organic supplements all cite echinacea as a key ingredient.
Like other herbs, the health benefits of echinacea are owed to its diverse makeup of nutrients, which includes polysaccharides, alkylamides, flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.
10 Health Benefits of Echinacea
Americans spend millions of dollars on echinacea supplements every year to support their health. With a long history of therapeutic use, there is a treasure trove of research to support its popularity.
1. Boosts the Immune System
Echinacea can have a powerful impact on the immune system; over 14 clinical trials have confirmed its ability to encourage good health all year long. Other studies show echinacea to be among the most effective supplements for seasonal wellness.
2. Reduces Redness and Swelling
Systemic swelling, redness, and discomfort in the body can have multiple sources, including an unhealthy diet or strenuous exercise. Consuming echinacea or applying skin care products that contain echinacea essential oil can help reduce and alleviate tissue irritation.
3. Promotes the Health of Cells
Consuming echinacea promotes the health of protective cells in your body. Many of the compounds in echinacea support immune cells and encourage healthy cell growth.
4. Facilitates Oxygen Transport
Echinacea may improve oxygen levels in the blood. Echinacea increases erythropoietin production in the bone marrow, this, in turn, promotes red blood cell production and increases the capacity of the blood to transport oxygen.
5. Supports Oral Health
Echinacea has been evaluated in combination with other herbs like sage and lavender and found to reduce bad breath. It’s believed this effect is partly due to echinacea’s ability to neutralized the harmful organisms that cause bad breath.
6. Alleviates Physical Discomfort
Native Americans used echinacea to reduce aches and pains. Today, research has shown its potential for promoting comfort following surgery.
7. Encourages Normal Skin Health
Echinacea supports a normal complexion by helping to discourage blemishes and irritation. Other studies found that it helps hydrate the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
8. Promotes Upper Respiratory Health
Echinacea is among the best herbs for supporting upper respiratory health, even in children. One double-blind placebo-controlled study found that air travel passengers who took echinacea tablets before and during a flight experienced fewer respiratory issues.
9. Provides Antioxidants
Echinacea is a source of antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids, selenium, and zinc. One study found that a particular echinacea tincture had more antioxidant activity than Gingko Biloba.
10. Supports Normal Aging
Although human research is necessary for confirmation, the results of animal studies suggest that echinacea could offer anti-aging potential. In one study, supplemental echinacea was attributed to helping extend the lifespan of aging mice.
Echinacea supplements are available in many forms. If you have access to the plant itself, you can make a pure, organic tea which doubles as an incredible home remedy for the flu.
Below is an easy recipe for echinacea tea. Make sure only to use organic or wildcrafted echinacea that’s free of pesticides. For flavor, you can add natural sweeteners like honey, but I prefer it plain.
- Heat 8-16 ounces of distilled or filtered water over medium to high heat.
- Add a mixture of flowers, roots, and leaves.
- Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Strain and enjoy hot or cold!
Side Effects and Precautions
Echinacea is generally considered safe, however, people who are sensitive to pollen should exercise caution. Echinacea comes from the same family of plants as daisies, marigolds, and ragweed. Some common side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, and mild nausea. While it is a favorite herb taken by many women, more research is needed to determine its safety for expectant or breastfeeding mothers. Before you try echinacea yourself, consult with your trusted healthcare provider.