Discover echinacea benefits for the body and skin! Echinacea is a popular, perennial, herb native to North America. Dietary supplement sales are up 10% in the USA. Echinacea has tall stems with pink or purple flowers and a central cone, resembling a spiked comb. The cone is the seed head with sharp, prickly, spines. It’s alternate name is purple coneflower. This herb has been used throughout history for many ailments.
There are nine identified plant species, but only three are commonly used medically: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea purpurea. Medicine is made from its leaves, flower and root. Chemicals in the root differ from those in the upper plant. The roots have high concentrations of volatile oils. The above-ground plant parts contain polysaccharides, substances that trigger the immune system. Research suggest the above ground part of Echinacea purpurea is the most medicinally effective.
Echinacea is available in different forms: dried herb, liquid extracts, tablets, capsules, juice, tea, ointments and creams. It may be combined with other herbs. It can be purchased at most pharmacy, grocery or natural health food stores.
Its taste varies depending on mixtures. It can leave an unpleasant after taste of licorice and alcohol. Try juicing a one ounce size of echinacea alone or blend it with other fruits and vegetables, for larger sized drinks. Combat colds, coughs and upper respiratory infections with a combination of ginger, echinacea and lemon in a homemade tea recipe!
Echinacea tincture is a super concentrated herbal medicine. It’s usually made in an alcohol base. Apple cider vinegar or glycerin can be substituted for the alcohol. Homemade echinacea tincture is handy to have around the house for prolonged illnesses.
BENEFITS of ECHINACEA for BODY – (Research is limited and inconclusive)
– Stimulate immune system
– Treat colds, flu, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, coughs, bronchitis; upper respiratory infections
BENEFITS of ECHINACEA for SKIN – (Research is limited and inconclusive)
– Increase elasticity
– Soothe bee stings
– Improve hydration
– Reduce inflammation
– Treat abscesses, ulcers and boils
– Treat acne, psoriasis and eczema
– Heal burns, UV radiation skin damage
– Heal minor skin wounds and infections
– Prevent breakdown of hyaluronan, a component of cartilage and synovial fluid. (Hyaluronan is known as the “goo molecule”).
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: (Some people experience echinacea side effects).
– Skin rash, especially in children
– Temporary numbness and tingling of tongue (if taken orally)
– Allergic reactions: shortness of breath, throat tightening, fainting
WHEN TO AVOID ECHINACEA
– On immunosuppressant medication
– Allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, chrysanthemums or any plants from the Asteraceae family
– Have tuberculosis, leukemia, diabetes, connective tissue disorder, multiple sclerosis, HIV, Aids, autoimmune disease, liver disorder
CAUTIONS of USING ECHINACEA
– Consult health care provider before taking echinacea if breast-feeding, pregnant, on prescription medicine or under care for medical conditions.
– There are concerns about the quality of echinacea on the market. Some products are mislabeled and may not contain echinacea at all. Read directions and labels well.