Health & Wellness

Natural Cold & Flu Relief + 4 More Echinacea Benefits

If you’re looking for an all-natural remedy to help fight viral and bacterial infections, look no further! Echinacea benefits your health by fighting inflammation, reducing your risk of catching colds, and even speeding up your recovery!

But what, exactly, is echinacea and why is it so effective? Let’s take a look at this herbal wonder and learn all about the many echinacea benefits and how it supports health and well-being.

 

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is a popular herb, also known as purple coneflower, that has been used for centuries to treat respiratory conditions such as the common cold, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis and more. [1]

This herb is a flowering plant with pink or purple petals and is part of the daisy family. It’s native to eastern and central North America.

They’re native to North America where they grow in prairies and open, wooded areas.

While there are nine species of echinacea, just three are utilized in herbal medicine: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. [2]

One of the most important properties that provides the echinacea benefits people have come to expect is its antioxidant status. Because echinacea is high in antioxidants, it helps to fight the free radicals caused by oxidative stress.

As you may recall, oxidative stress is linked to many of our most pressing health concerns, such as diabetes, neurological diseases, and even cancer.

But, as I mentioned above, echinacea benefits your body in other ways, too. Let’s take a look at five of the top echinacea benefits and what you can expect when you use this popular herbal remedy.

Top 5 Echinacea Benefits

Here are five of the top echinacea benefits you need to know about.

1. Contains anti-inflammatory properties

Largely thanks to its antioxidant status, echinacea benefits your body by fighting the inflammation that’s linked to so many of our modern diseases. But just how effective is it?

Well, one study that took a closer look at E. angustifolia, E. pallida, and E. purpurea to see how they impacted the immune system of lab animals. The researchers found that each of the species of echinacea significantly increased antibody response and E. angustifolia and E. pallida inhibited inflammation. [3]

Meanwhile, another study published in 2010 found that echinacea completely reversed the cellular pro-inflammatory response caused by certain strains of bacteria! [4]

2. Helps lower the risk of catching colds by 58 percent 

When it comes to echinacea benefits, perhaps the most popular benefit is its reported impact on the common cold. But, that claim has been met by a lot of controversy. So, back in 2007, researchers decided to take a closer look, and here’s what they found.

According to a meta-analysis of 14 studies, the researchers determined that taking echinacea decreased participants’ odds of developing the common cold by an astounding 58 percent!

But, it gets even better. They also discovered that taking echinacea even after you have a cold still offers benefits by helping to decrease the duration of symptoms by 1.4 days! [5]

3. Speeds recovery from bacterial and viral infections 

Just as echinacea benefits people with viral infections, such as the common cold, it’s also been shown to help fight bacterial infections.

In fact, a review of 26 controlled clinical trials found that treatment preparations containing echinacea extracts were effective at positively impacting the participants’ immune systems—a critical part of helping your body to fight off both viruses and bacteria. [6]

Furthermore, another study revealed that taking 10 mg/kg of echinacea each day for 10 days was as effective in treating certain strains of bacteria as taking a pharmaceutical immuno-stimulant! [7] (Note: Please discuss your appropriate dosage with your doctor.)

4. Supports skin health

Did you know that echinacea benefits your skin health as well? Here’s how …

According to a 2010 study, echinacea extract was placed into certain creams and gels and tested on 10 healthy volunteers for their impacts on skin irritation, skin hydration level, and wrinkle reduction.

The researchers found that skin hydration increased by about 7.5 percent while wrinkles decreased by up to 14.92 percent. Meanwhile, no irritation was found. [8]

Meanwhile, due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, echinacea has also been found to fight acne.

Studies have shown that, in lab testing, extracts of echinacea reversed the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines resulting from acne and returned the cytokine levels back to normal. [9]

5. Helps reduce anxiety

Finally, one of the exciting echinacea benefits is its impact on anxiety.

In fact, a recent study published in March 2020 followed participants who were treated with 40 mg of echinacea or placebo tablets twice daily for seven days.

Researchers found that those who took echinacea reported decreased anxiety scores by about 11 points while the placebo group reported a decrease of three points. [10] Amazingly, the effect felt by the echinacea group lasted for at least three weeks.

As a result, researchers stated that echinacea preparations may have significant beneficial effects on anxiety in people.

Echinacea benefits - Dr. Pingel

How to Use Echinacea

So, now that you know all about the many echinacea benefits for your health, where can you find this powerful herb?

Echinacea is readily available at most health food stores and vitamin shops. You can also purchase it online. This herb comes in two forms: powdered extract, usually in capsules, and liquid.

Because echinacea can cause certain rare side effects, it’s best to consult with your physician before taking this herbal remedy—especially if you have an autoimmune disorder or seasonal allergies.

And if you have certain allergies, such as ragweed and/or daisies, make sure to avoid use before discussing it with your doctor.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Echinacea is a popular herb, also known as purple coneflower, that has been used for centuries to treat respiratory conditions such as the common cold, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis and more.
  • Five of the top echinacea benefits include: fighting inflammation, lowering risk of catching colds, speeding recovery of infections, supporting skin health, and helping reduce anxiety.
  • Echinacea is readily available, but should be used with caution if you’re prone to seasonal allergies.

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