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The Benefits of Echinacea

Updated on October 15, 2012
Echinacea has many uses in natural medicine
Echinacea has many uses in natural medicine | Source

Echinacea:What is it?

Echinacea is a member of the daisy family and includes a variety of flowering plants native to North America.Echinacea is also known as the purple coneflower.It blooms throughout the Summer and is used as a herbal medicine or for display in Summer gardens.Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal remedies used today with good results reported by herbalists and those using it for various ailments which will be outlined below.

History of Echinacea

There has been archaeological evidence to show that echinacea was used by Native Americans for it's medicinal properties about four hundred years ago.

It's main use is to treat wounds and infections and before the advent of antibiotics,it was used extensively for conditions such as diphtheria,malaria and scarlet fever.

Echinacea has been used extensively in Germany during the past century and a lot of scientific study of echinacea has been conducted there.

Current usage

Echinacea is mainly used today as an immune system booster to alleviate aymptoms of the common cold as well as for reducing fever.It is reputed by herbalists to have properties that boost the immune system and assist the body naturally to fight infection.

Much research has indicated that the active properties of echinacea can reduce inflammation and and relieve pain alongside boosting the avtivity of the immune system.It has also been found from research that echinacea has antioxidant and antiviral effects. In this context,herbal medicine practitioners often prescribe echinacea for bladder and kidney infections.sinusitis,ear infections and hay fever. It is also often recommended for wounds that are slow to heal.

There are differing viewpoints about the value of echinacea for treating the common cold with some advocating that taking echinacea reduces the severity of symptoms and the duration of the cold.

The roots,stems and leafy parts of the echinacea plant are used medicinally and have different medicinal properties which when combined result in it's beneficial effect.

There are three species of echinacea used for their medicinal properties,i.e.echinacea purpurea,echinacea pallida and echinacea augustifolia. It is available in tablets,tinctures and ointments and is often used alongside other herbal remedies for its synergistic effects. Synergy occurs when the effects of a combination of vitamins,minerals and/or herbal remedies complement each other and work better than one of the compounds alone. Perhaps this is the major difference between the use of drugs in conventional medicine when the focus is on adverse reactions and side-effects which is totally different from the synergy effect typical in the field of natural medicine.

At the same time,there are contraindications for using echinacea. For example, it is contraindicated for those suffering from diabetes,multiple sclerosis and leukaemia among other conditions.Therefore,it is best taken under the care of a reputable practitioner of natural medicine.

Have you ever used echinacea?

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    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      Thanks for your feedback and glad you liked the hub.

    • IM4Keith4sure profile image

      nAnce mUra 5 years ago from Calgary, aLberta ,Canada.

      Hi! Enjoy this Hub. I take Echainacea only when I think I am coming down with a Cold, or my throat feels dry. It certainly helps and I never come down with a cold.and if a persond oes come down with a cold Echanacea lessons the cold. I take it in pill form. and only take it for a few days before I think Im coming down with a cold. I also have grown it as a flower in the garden.Thanks for other reasons why to take Echanacea.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      I am glad you like it jennzie and thanks for taking the time to comment so positively.Regards,Kate

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This makes me want to start taking Echinacea. Great hub!

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thanks Kate I will take a look

      Kind regards Peter

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      Thank you Peter for such positive feedback and I also use echinacea effectively myself.It is a very effective remedy.Cheers,Kate

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you Kate

      This is a well researched article concerning an extremely useful herb.

      I use it often but it deserves wider acknowledgement.

      Kind regards Peter