Echinacea Benefits and Side Effects

echinacea purpureaNative American Tribes have known the value of Echinacea for centuries. At least fourteen of them used it to fight off cold symptoms and infections. In the early 1900’s in the United States, Echinacea was the best selling herb. However, it virtually fell into disuse for two reasons. First the discovery of antibiotics supposedly far exceeded the value of herbs. Second, in about 1930, the AMA pronounced Echinacea to be “useless.” Today we are taking a second look at this herb and have found many medicinal values. In fact, it is one of the best known herbs in modern times.

Also known as coneflower, Echinacea has nine species though the best known is purpurea. This perennial plant grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet and produces beautiful purple flowers that are 4 to 6 inches across. These flowers are also called droops. This is because the petals droop after growing outward from the cone.

Most of the research done on Echinacea purpurea was done by Dr. Gerhard Madaus in Germany. Among other things, he developed Echinacin, a juice made from the flowers, leaves, and stems of the Echinacea plant. Though all the plant has value, the roots are the most potent part of the plant.

The modern studies have shown that the AMA’s initial evaluation of Echinacea was in error. It is actually an excellent infection fighter and is also used as a powerful natural antibiotic. It is commonly mixed with other herbs, especially cayenne, goldenseal, and yarrow. Echinacea is effective in the treatment of blood disorders such as gangrene, carbuncles, and abscesses, as well as poisonous bites of insects and snakes.

Echinacea is best known today as an immune builder, treating infections of the respiratory and digestive tracts. The ingredients so effective in stimulating the immune system are believed to be the water-soluble polysaccharides. Echinacea also contains anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bacteriostatic, antiexudative, and fungistatic properties. Some preliminary research indicates that it may be used as a cancer fighter.

Echinacea is able to attack and destroy fungi, viral, and bacterial invaders. This makes Echinacea effective in treating vaginal yeast infections, sties, upper respiratory infections, tuberculosis, sinusitis, and athlete’s foot. Echinacea is especially good at cleaning the lymphatic system and the glands, and is, therefore, used to treat strep throat, swollen lymph glands, prostate problems, ear infections, and tonsillitis. It has the ability to speed recovery time from an infection without including the side effects some medication causes. Working together with chickweed, Echinacea helps with weight loss too.

Dried root powder or leaves makes an easy Echinacea tea. The tincture has both internal and external use. For instance, a dropper of tincture in tea can be used to treat earaches and the tincture is also helpful in treating athlete’s foot. Many believe freeze-dried Echinacea powder is the most potent but it is also available in a capsule.

Echinacea is different from many herbs in that it is most effective when taken just prior to suspected infection, or when initial symptoms occur, not on an ongoing basis. The roots and tops have the same effective chemicals and thus capsules of whole plant mix are best. This article could not exhaust the list of uses for Echinacea but it does point out the versatility of potency of this herb. So add some Echinacea tea or Echinacea capsules to your diet today and experience the benefits!

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 24th at 11:57 am and is filed under Bulk Herbs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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