Echinacea may be foreign to your ears, but it is actually a popular herbal plant native to the Americas, where it has been used as a remedy and prevention for various illnesses and infections for many centuries now. Also called coneflower, echinacea flower typically features a thin, recurving, and attractive pink to purple-colored petals surrounding a large sharply-pointed cone. Although its flower always gets the people’s attention first, the plant’s leaves, stem, and rhizomes are also employed in tea preparations to relish its nutrient-giving compounds. Read on and get familiar with what are the health benefits of echinacea for your overall wellness.
The aesthetically-pleasing echinacea plant offers numerous healing properties for your holistic health.
With its rich pharmacologically active compounds like flavonoids, phenolic acids, polysaccharides, minerals, and vitamins, echinacea has shown to exhibit biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and larvicidal effects. These healing properties are found to boost immunity, eliminate toxic molecules, as well as pathogenic infections, reduce inflammation, improve brain functions, speed up recovery from injuries, and many more, which you’ll learn later on. Discover the mind-blowing benefits of the aesthetically-pleasing echinacea plant so you can consider adding them to your journey to a healthy lifestyle.
What is Echinacea?
Echinacea or coneflower, scientific name Echinacea angustifolia, pallida, or purpurea, is a genus of herbaceous perennial blooms under the Asteraceae or sunflower family, along with other plants like aster, daisies, chrysanthemum, sunflower, marigold, zinnia, etc. It is composed of nine different species, each of which varies slightly in appearance, and through modern hybridization techniques, the purple flowers now come in pink, crimson, white, yellow, or gold.
The origin of echinacea is believed to be North America, where the earliest archaeological evidence from the late 17th century was recovered. Indigenous Indians had been using it in medicinal tea preparations for more than 500 years before it reached Europe around the 1890s. The commercial cultivation of echinacea in Germany started around 1939, but it was only at the start of the 20th century when the USA began growing and utilizing the plant for therapeutic purposes.
Sweet and tingling-inducing echinacea owes its active compounds for its curative properties.
The most common cultivars of echinacea plants can grow up to four feet tall although some varieties in the wild can reach 1 meter high. They have tapering and furrowed roots, thin and woody stem, and four-sided achene seeds. As mentioned, the flowers have vibrantly-colored petals encircling a high cone and a faint aroma. Meanwhile, echinacea’s flavor is usually described as sweet, having a tongue-tingling ability, which is said to be proof of the plant’s effectiveness.
For hundreds of years, earlier civilizations have been enjoying the curative attributes of echinacea by making it a natural option to strengthen the immune system and ward off infections. It turned out that the herbal plant is an ideal way to resist colds, hemorrhoids, and diseases linked to impurities of the blood due to its alkamides, glycoproteins, caffeic, cichoric, and caftaric acids, echinacoside, and polysaccharides. Detailed health benefits of echinacea will be read on the next part.
Main Bioactive Compounds in Echinacea
What are the Health Benefits of Echinacea?
Laboratory research shows that the different parts of the echinacea plant contain medicinally and pharmaceutically valuable bioactive compounds like flavonoid cichoric and caffeic acids, which can be used in both food and drug preparations. The antioxidant properties of the plant are found to scavenge disease-causing free radicals and lessen oxidative damages, as well as cell mutation, thereby lowering the risk of chronic metabolic and degenerative conditions.
Echinacea’s active antioxidant constituents also offer potent anti-inflammatory effects that inhibit and block major inflammatory markers in the body. This amazing quality is the reason why echinacea tea is almost always recommended as a natural remedy for pain, redness, and irritation occurring in the skin, joints, and even in the neural cells.
Immunomodulators are chemical agents that alter the function of the immune system or an immune response by stimulating the formation of antibodies for stronger immunity. Echinacea herb has long been proven to have impressive immunomodulatory effects, increasing both the innate and specific defense of the body. These qualities greatly help in treating and preventing different viral infections.
Major Health Benefits of Echinacea
1. Echinacea provides energy
Many athletes and people with active lifestyles drink echinacea tea due to its performance and endurance-boosting properties. The herb is believed to enhance the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, as well as the formation of red blood cells, and thereby improving the body’s oxygen uptake and energy for mobility.
2. It boosts immunity against infections
Echinacea has blessed traditional medicine with very powerful antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting actions that have been beneficial with curing and warding off recurring pathogenic infections. It is known to remedy ear infections, gum diseases, typhoid, malaria, syphilis, bloodstream and urinary tract infections, genital herpes, and vaginal yeast candidiasis.
3. It also hastens healing rate
The combination of rich antioxidants and vitamins in echinacea helps in a faster healing process, as the herb quickly eliminates bacteria from your system, prevents free radicals from causing further damage, and stimulates the formation of new skin cells. stimulate the formation of new
4. Echinacea improves detoxification
Drinking echinacea tea has been used in the treatment of several gastrointestinal tract issues due to its carminative, diuretic, and laxative properties. The plant reduces toxins in the liver, stimulates its protective cells, and even boosts the lymphatic and kidney functions.
5. It prevents diabetes and hypertension
Echinacea extract has been shown to inhibit enzymes that absorb carbohydrates, helping individuals with diabetes control their blood sugar levels and blood sugar spikes. Along with its rich antioxidants, echinacea potentially stops the development of type-2 diabetes, heart conditions, hypertension, and other chronic illnesses.
6. The herb has anti-cancer properties
A clinical study has reported that the daily consumption of echinacea potentially extends the life span by combating certain types of cancer, particularly leukemia, which affects the bone marrow and blood. Echinacea’s antioxidants like flavonoids lessen oxidative stress and cell mutation induced by the free radicals and improve your immunity, making the herb an ideal natural supplement for people at high risk of cancer.
7. Echinacea promotes mental stability
Some studies published that echinacea extracts may help cure ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder and its associated symptoms in both adults and children and adults. It is believed that a unique echinacea strain binds with the brain receptors, restores the brain’s chemistry, and tells them to calm down, easing anxiety, social phobias, and depression.
8. It can help with pregnancy
Echinacea is one of the few herbal teas that are deemed safe for pregnant women, especially those who are in their third semester. Its stress-relieving qualities are said to soothe both mental and physical discomfort like sleeplessness, mood shifts, and cramps.
9. It eases various skin issues
The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vitamin C compounds in echinacea have been associated with higher skin protection against blemishes, age spots, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, and sun-induced inflammation. The potent antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic attributes of the herb have also been shown to alleviate symptoms of acne, boils, eczema, and psoriasis.
10. Echinacea treats hair disorders
Echinacea is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that offer benefits for hair follicles, relieving dandruff, promoting hair growth, and strengthening hair strands. It is also employed to aid the treatment of hair disorders like patchy hair loss or alopecia.
How to Prepare
Echinacea parts are usually made into homemade tea, together with other herbs like elderberry, lemongrass, wild lettuce, or mint to enhance both its flavor and medicinal content. Here are easy steps on how to prepare your dried echinacea for cold remedy or daily immunity booster.
- Gather the following ingredients: 1/4 cup dried echinacea, 1 tsp dried lemongrass, and 1 tsp dried mint.
- Combine all the dried herbs in your teacup and add 8 all three herbs and then add 8 ounces or 1 cup of boiling water.
- Let the mixture steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the infuser or strainer if you’re using any. .
- Enjoy a freshly brewed echinacea tea plain or with some organic honey.
How to Select and Store
Echinacea products are widely available in the supermarket all year round. You can mostly find them at health food or drug stores and choose from a wide variety of dried herbs, teas, liquid extracts, capsules, and pills. Just make sure to read the product’s label properly before buying it.
Possible Risks and Complications
Excessive ingestion of echinacea and its products may cause various adverse effects, so consume only the recommended dosage or as per doctor advice. Too much consumption of the herb may induce nausea, dizziness, disorientation, headaches, mouth dryness, tongue numbness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, joint and muscle aches, fever, and insomnia. Meanwhile, allergic people may suffer from skin redness, rashes, and itchiness. Echinacea may also interact with your other existing medications, so it is still best to consult a medical professional before taking any.
1!!Echinacea is considered to be one of the most popular, most versatile, and healthiest tea herb in the whole planet, with its impressive list of therapeutic properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antidepressant, and immunostimulant qualities. Its bioactive compounds have long been tested and proven to alleviate different ailments and their symptoms, including flu, colds, respiratory issues, bladder and ear infections, arthritis, stress, anxiety, skin disorders, skin aging, diabetes, and cancer. Consider trying the herb now, but always remember to check with your physician first.
What health benefit of echinacea you liked best? Share your insights with us in the comment section below!