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Echinacea Benefits

Echinacea Benefits

Echinacea is a herb that can help prevent and treat several illnesses. The regular use of this herb strengthens the immune system. It is widely used to treat symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. This article provides information regarding its various benefits and side effects.
HolisticZine Staff
Echinacea is a drought-tolerant, perennial plant originally cultivated in North America. Its medicinal uses are widely known, especially in the Indian subcontinent. It is believed to be a 'cure-all' medicine, as it is known to cure wide range of diseases. Its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties fight against microbial infections. It owes its anti-pathogenic activities to the following constituents: flavonoids, polysaccharides, phenols, and alkylamides; some minerals like copper, potassium, iodine, and iron; along with vitamins A, E, and C. This medicinal plant usually has three varieties. These are Purpurea,Angustifolia andPallida. All varieties possess similar medicinal properties.

Benefits
  • This herb is one of the most commonly used remedies for curing respiratory illnesses. It is known to shorten the duration of common cold, cough, and flu.
  • It provides relief from the discomfort caused by enlarged lymph glands and sore throat.
  • This medicinal plant stimulates the immune system and activates the production/migration of white blood cells to fight against pathogens.
  • One of the immune responses against microbes include phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is a process, wherein the white blood cells engulf foreign bodies . This herb is believed to increase phagocytosis by 20 - 30%.
  • Echinacea tea is prescribed for treating urinary tract infection by herbalists.
  • The extract of this herb is applied topically for curing genital herpes and candidiasis.
  • It helps the skin to heal wounds, burns, insect bites, acne, ulcers, and regenerate itself.
  • It strengthens the defense mechanism by increasing the levels of a chemical called poperdin, which in turn activates the immune system.
  • It assists in the production of interferon, which increases the antiviral activity against various viral infections like influenza and herpes.
  • It is used externally for treating psoriasis, arthritis, lymphatic swelling, eczema, and other inflammatory skin diseases.
  • Hyaluronidase is an enzyme released by the bacteria, which aids the bacteria to invade healthy cells. This herb inhibits hyaluronidase, thereby preventing the spread of bacterial infection.
Preparation of the Tea

Add 1 - 2 teaspoons of Echinacea to a cup of filtered water. Mix well and heat this mixture. Bring it to boil, and then allow it to simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. You can have this tea, at least three times a day. If you prefer taking the herbal powder in tincture form, then take 1 - 3 millimeter of it for maximum three times a day. Consult a herbalist for safe dosage instructions.

Side Effects

It has been observed that this herb could cause certain side effects. People allergic to chrysanthemums, ragweed, daisies, and marigolds are commonly found to be allergic to this herb too. It generally affects the intestine, and hence the complications include abdominal pain and problems associated with defecation. Some people may also experience skin rashes, asthma, and anaphylaxis. Since the herb directly affects the immune system, its usage is not recommended to people already affected with immunity-related disorders like: AIDS, leukemia and other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Before consumption, it is best to check with a herbalist to find out if this herb is safe and beneficial for you.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.