The echinacea plant grows in prairies and open wooded areas and is found in the United States of America. Certain echinacea species are even listed as endangered in the USA. The name of the plant is derived from the Greek word ‘ekhinos’ which means ‘sea urchin’ or ‘hedgehog’. This is due to the fact that the plant has spines in the centre.
This herb was used as medicine by Native Americans, and it was spread to Europe by American settlers. Supposedly, it was the Native American tribes that noticed that wounded animals ate the plant, so they started using it. Certain tribes, such as the Lakota, used it as pain medication. Other tribes, such as the Pawnee, Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Omaha-Winnebago used the species echinacea purpurea to treat headaches, sore throats, coughs, wounds, insect bites, snake bites and burns. They either chewed the plant, or made it in the form of tea.
plant was then brought to Europe where doctors from Germany started conducting studies on its health benefits. They believed that the echinacea plant increases the white blood cell count, which in turn can boost the immune system and thus help the body fight infections. Today, this herbal remedy is a popular over-the-counter medicine and can be found in the form of echinacea tablets, capsules, tea, etc.
Echinacea Is Rich with Antioxidants
The oxidation process in our body releases free radicals which are harmful to our cells. These free radicals can increase our risk of cancer, heart diseases, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, etc. They can also speed up the process of aging. This is where antioxidants come into play. Foods rich in antioxidants such as lycopene, flavonoid, zinc, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc., can greatly reduce these risks and the damaged caused.
However, taking too much of this plant is not beneficial either. Taking more than the suggested daily dose is not recommended and can do you more harm than good. This is why it is important to always check the dosage instructions of the echinacea pills you have purchased or are intending to purchase. If you are not sure how and when to take them, don’t hesitate to consult a pharmacist or your doctor.
Boosts Your Immune System
A few studies have been conducted in which participants were given echinacea extracts to test its effects on infections. More research is needed for conclusive evidence, however, the results showed that echinacea can reduce the duration of a cold, or even prevent the common cold. According to these studies, by taking this supplement, you can reduce the duration of a cold by approximately one-and-a-half days. You can also reduce your chances of catching a cold by 50-60%. The reason for that is that echinacea boosts the immune system so that the body can fight infections better.
The reason why research and studies are inconclusive is the fact that there is a variety of echinacea species, each of them with different benefits. Echinacea purpurea is considered most beneficial for immunomodulation therapy, namely for treating the common cold. So, if you intend to purchase echinacea tablets once you feel you are coming down with the flu, look for ones with echinacea purpurea as an active ingredient.
Hyperglycemia, or more commonly known as high blood sugar, is a condition where the body produces a low amount of insulin or none at all. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the blood sugar level. A study has found that echinacea purpurea capsules can, in fact, help manage blood sugar levels. However, echinacea tablets or capsules should be used only as supplements. They are not a replacement for hyperglycemia or for diabetes treatment.
Hypertension is commonly known as high blood pressure. This condition can be the cause of heart diseases. Echinacea, along with other supplements such as garlic and fish oil, has been found to help regulate high blood pressure.
Inflammation can be caused by an infection or an injury. It is the way your immune system fights infections and heals your body. It can be painful and unpleasant, which is why patients look for foods and supplements with anti-inflammatory properties. In a study and echinacea extract to see if these supplements helped patients with inflammation caused by knee osteoarthritis. The results showed that these extracts had a positive effect on patients who didn’t respond well to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is no wonder that Native Americans used this plant as pain medication!
Even though more research is needed to determine this, but some studies have promising results when it comes to treating anxiety using an extract from this plant. According to this study, some of the extracts reduced anxiety without affecting the locomotor system, while others had an effect but only when a higher dosage was administered. Bottom line is, it is possible that echinacea can be used to treat this problem instead of using anti-anxiety drugs.