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12 Health Benefits of Echinacea

Updated on October 5, 2018
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Echinacea Flower and Plant

Echinacea flower. Also called purple coneflower.
Echinacea flower. Also called purple coneflower. | Source
Purple coneflower or echinacea flower.
Purple coneflower or echinacea flower.
Echinacea plants.
Echinacea plants. | Source

Echinacea Health Benefits

Wikipedia says about echinacea:

Echinacea is a genus, or group of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family, Asteraceae. The nine species it contains are commonly called coneflowers. They are endemic to eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas.

In my catalog of organic herbs, it has echinacea angustifolia root, echinacea purpurea herb (whole plant) and echinacea purpurea root. It is best to get organic herbs or at the least herbs that were grown without pesticides and herbicides. It is also called purple coneflower and black-eyed Susan.

Folklore says that the native Americans learned about using them when they saw sick or wounded elk seeking out the plants and eating them. Active phytochemicals (plant medicines) in echinacea include chicoric acid, caftaric acid, echinacoside, polysaccharides, polyacetylenes, betain, glycoside, sesquiterpenes, and caryophylene.

As far as chicoric acid, it is a powerful antioxidant that helps to maintain healthy levels of cortisol that help people to maintain physical, emotional and mental well-being during high-stress times.

Dr.Oz has an article called Chicoric Acid to Bust Stress. It says:

Studies have shown chicoric acid can be protective against pain, inflammation, oxidation, diabetes, liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease. New research shows that it can also help with depression. It appears that chicoric acid can raise the levels of the “feel good” molecules or neurotransmitters (like dopamine, serotonin) and lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol. The opposite biochemical process happens when you experience stress.

The NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They say that echinacea is one of the 5 most searched for herbs in 2012 on their website.

Dr. James A. Duke has a Ph.D. in botany. He worked for the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for over 3 decades researching the different plant medicines (phytochemicals) in different plants. He has written books on herbs including the best 13 herbs.

Echinacea is one of those 13 and is also one of the best selling herbs in the country. See 13 Best Herbs for Health and Healing. He says that herbal remedies are often safer, cheaper and easier to use than synthetic drugs.

Webmd.com says that the parts of the plant that are used for medicine are leaves, flower, and root. Echinacea is most popular for reducing the chance of getting colds or the flu, reducing the time you have it and reducing the severity of the symptoms. Webmd.com says:

Echinacea is also used against many other infections including the flu, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria.

Other uses not related to infection include chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatism, migraines, acid indigestion, pain, dizziness, rattlesnake bites, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Medline Plus is part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It says that echinacea is possibly effective against the common cold and vaginal yeast infections. Also it is possibly ineffective against Genital herpes (Herpes simplex virus, HSV). For the other health benefits, it says that there is insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says:

A review of 14 clinical trials found that echinacea reduced the odds of developing a cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1 - 4 days

In Germany (where herbs are regulated by the government), the above-ground parts of Echinacea purpurea are approved to treat colds, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and slow healing wounds.

Many herbalists consider echinacea to be the best blood purifier. I feel that toxins in the body weaken the immune system so by getting rid of toxins it helps the immune system to be stronger. A few things that help the immune system to be stronger are exercise, getting plenty of sleep and ENOUGH vitamin D. For more on this see How to Avoid the Flu or Colds.

Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: 13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, Lengthen Your Life

Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: The Only Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, and Lengthen Your Life
Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: The Only Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, and Lengthen Your Life

[Includes echinacea.] "According to Duke, who worked as a specialist in medicinal plants at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Station, herbal remedies are often safer, cheaper and easier to use than synthetic drugs." "Duke's dynamic narrative and personal anecdotes will likely gain the confidence of readers who feel shortchanged by the impersonal manner of many doctors and the limitations of conventional medications. The greatest value of the book, however, may be how Duke extracts a manageable group of herbs from the seemingly endless array being touted in the marketplace and offers a practical plan for integrating them into daily life."

 

12 Health Benefits of Echinacea

1. Echinacea Helps with Colds and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

This is what this herb is most known for. It may be the reason that it is one of the best selling herbs and one of the 5 most searched for herbs in 2012. It can help to prevent people from getting the cold in the first place. It can also lessen the duration of the cold. It can also lessen the severity of the symptoms of the cold.

2. Strengthens the Immune System

In this day and age with all the infectious diseases out there, the stronger the immune system, the better. A substance (phytochemical) in echinacea is echinacein. It helps to prevent germs from entering healthy cells.

3. A Topical Disinfectant

Echinacea can be made into a solution to put on cuts, scratches and wounds to help prevent them from getting infected.

4. Helps Psoriasis and Eczema

This is done by using it as a topical solution.

5. Helps Slow-Healing Wounds

Again it is used as a topical solution to help these wounds to heal faster. It also relieves the pain. Some people use it for hemorrhoids or added to a hemorrhoid remedy.

6. Helps Vaginal Yeast Infection

This was mentioned above as one of the things that it was likely to be effective for by Medline Plus that is part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

7. Echinacea Helps Genital Herpes

The Livestrong Foundation has a webpage about Echinacea & Herpes. It says that these 3 herbs from the echinacea family are used for medicinal purposes-- E. pallida, E. purpurea and E. angustifolia. This webpage says:

An extract from Echinacea purpurea helps prevent recurrent infections with herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1, according to a study conducted by A. Ghaemi and associates from Golestan University of Medical Sciences and Health Care, Iran.

8. Helps Heal Sunburn

I was looking for a good website that talks about this but many websites mention this as one of the benefits of this herb. It is applied topically and is also very good for the skin.

9. Helps ADHD

On a website about helping ADHD naturally, it mentions echinacea as an herb to help this. It also mentions evening primrose oil and evening primrose is one of the 13 best herbs according to Dr. James Duke.

10. Helps Urinary Tract Infections

I have never had this but a friend of mine says that it is very painful. Medline Plus above listed this as one of the things that it is likely effective against.

11. Helps to Heal Ear Infections

One webpage has a natural treatment for ear infections is to put garlic and echinacea in olive oil. Then warm the olive oil to the temperature of the body and put into the ear to treat ear infections. Garlic has many properties similar to echinacea.

12. Helps Snake and Insect Bites

The native Americans learned about the above. One website says that if bitten by a venomous snake the person should be taken immediately to the hospital. It says that there are 4 of them in the United States. It calls them "vicious monsters" and they include copperhead, cottonmouth, rattlesnake, and the coral snake.

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World's Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs by James A. Duke PhD

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World's Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs
The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World's Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

"Many diseased and conditions for which we turn to modern medicine can also be treated naturally with healing herbs, medicinal food, other natural remedies--and these treatments can be safer, less expensive and possibly even more effective than traditional methods. Let Dr. James Duke, the world's leading authority on healing herbs, leads you through the vast world of natural remedies--from Anise for Asthma to Violet for Varicose Veins, and everything in between. With just a few trips to the health-food store, the supermarket, or your own backyard--and with the help of Dr. Duke--you'll have everything you need to create your own Natural Medicine Cabinet."

 

Echinacea: One Of Nature's Immune Modulators with Dr. James Meschino (N.D., D.C).

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