Echinacea is a powerful and beneficial herb used by people around the world to maintain good health. Every part of the plant, from the roots to the flower petals, is bursting with vital nutrients. With a reputation as a natural cold remedy, many people enjoy echinacea in one form or another, whether as a tea, a supplement, or even the raw plant. Here, we'll look at ten impressive ways echinacea can support your health.
What Is Echinacea?
A flowering plant native to North America, Echinacea purpurea has dotted the American landscape in one form or another for thousands of years. Initially prized by the Native American Sioux as a remedy for snakebites, colic, and infections, it went on to become a wellness staple until the advent of antibiotics. Today, echinacea remains one of America’s most beloved and widely used herbs. Natural cold remedies, cough drops, and organic supplements all cite echinacea as a key ingredient.
10 Health Benefits of Echinacea
Americans spend millions of dollars on echinacea supplements every year to support their health. With a long history of therapeutic use, there is a treasure trove of research to support its popularity.
1. Boosts the Immune System
Echinacea can have a powerful impact on the immune system; over 14 clinical trials have confirmed its ability to encourage good health all year long.[3, 4] Other studies show echinacea to be among the most effective supplements for seasonal wellness.
2. Reduces Redness & Swelling
Systemic swelling, redness, and discomfort in the body can have multiple sources, from an unhealthy diet to strenuous exercise. Consuming echinacea or applying skin care products that contain echinacea essential oil can help reduce and alleviate tissue irritation.[7, 8]
3. Promotes the Health of Cells
4. Facilitates Oxygen Transport
Echinacea may improve oxygen levels in the blood. Echinacea increases erythropoietin production in the bone marrow. This, in turn, promotes red blood cell production and increases the capacity of the blood to transport oxygen.
5. Supports Oral Health
Echinacea has been evaluated in combination with other herbs like sage and lavender and found to reduce bad breath. It's believed this effect is partly due to echinacea's ability to neutralize the harmful organisms that cause bad breath.
6. Alleviates Physical Discomfort
Native Americans used echinacea to reduce aches and pains. Today, research has shown its potential for promoting comfort following surgery.
7. Encourages Normal Skin Health
8. Promotes Upper Respiratory Health
Echinacea is among the best herbs for supporting upper respiratory health, even in children. One double-blind placebo-controlled study found that air travel passengers who took echinacea tablets before and during a flight experienced fewer respiratory issues.
9. Provides Antioxidants
Echinacea is a source of antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids, selenium, and zinc. One study found that a particular echinacea tincture had more antioxidant activity than Gingko biloba.
10. Supports Normal Aging
Although human research is necessary for confirmation, studies suggest that echinacea could offer anti-aging potential. In one study, supplemental echinacea was attributed to helping extend the lifespan of aging mice.
Echinacea supplements are available in many forms. If you have access to the plant itself, you can make a pure, organic tea which doubles as an incredible herbal remedy.
Below is an easy recipe for echinacea tea. Make sure only to use organic or wildcrafted echinacea that's free of pesticides. For flavor, you can add natural sweeteners like honey, but I prefer it unsweetened.
- Heat 8 to 16 ounces of distilled or filtered water over medium to high heat.
- Add a mixture of flowers, roots, and leaves.
- Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Strain and enjoy hot or cold!
Side Effects & Precautions
Echinacea is generally considered safe. However, people who are sensitive to pollen should exercise caution. Echinacea comes from the same family of plants as daisies, marigolds, and ragweed. Some common side effects of pollen exposure include dizziness, dry mouth, and mild nausea. While it is a favorite herb taken by many women, more research is needed to determine its safety for expectant or breastfeeding mothers. Before you try echinacea yourself, consult with your trusted health care provider.
Echinacea & Your Health
If you are looking for an echinacea supplement to enhance or support your health, then choose carefully. Only buy echinacea supplements from a trusted supplier who can provide organic options that are free of harmful chemicals, additives, or sweeteners.Global Healing’s Immune Boost Raw Herbal Extract™ is a USDA certified organic formula containing echinacea, along with elderberry, organic olive leaf, pine bark, enokitake, and birch polypore mushroom.
Organic echinacea root extract is also in our revolutionary iron support formula, Iron. Echinacea works synergistically with the other all-natural ingredients to support optimal blood health, iron levels, and oxygen transport throughout the body.
- Braun, Lesley, and Marc Cohen. “Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide." Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2015. Print.
- Miller, Sandra C. "Echinacea: A Miracle Herb against Aging and Cancer? Evidence In Vivo in Mice.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2.3 (2005): 309–314.
- Ross SM. "Echinacea purpurea: A Proprietary Extract of Echinacea purpurea Is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold.” Holist Nurs Pract. (2016): :54-57.
- UConn News. "Echinacea Could Cut Chances of Catching Common Cold By More Than Half." June 26, 2007.
- Rauš K, Pleschka S, Klein P, Schoop R, Fisher P. "Effect of an Echinacea-Based Hot Drink Versus Oseltamivir in Influenza Treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy, Multicenter, Noninferiority Clinical Trial." Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. (2015): 66-72.
- Zhang, Jun-Ming, and Jianxiong An. "Cytokines, Inflammation and Pain.” International anesthesiology clinics 45.2 (2007): 27–37.
- Sharma M, Schoop R, Hudson JB. "Echinacea as an antiinflammatory agent: the influence of physiologically relevant parameters.” Phytother Res. (2009): 863-867.
- Yu D, Yuan Y, Jiang L, et al. "Anti-inflammatory effects of essential oil in Echinacea purpurea." L. Pak J Pharm Sci. (2013): 403-408.
- Li Y, Wang Y, Wu Y, et al. "Echinacea pupurea extracts promote murine dendritic cell maturation by activation of JNK, p38 MAPK and NF-κB pathways." Dev Comp Immunol. (2017): 21-26.
- Zhai, Zili et al. "Echinacea Increases Arginase Activity and Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties in RAW 264.7 Macrophage Cells Indicative of Alternative Macrophage Activation." Journal of ethnopharmacology 122.1 (2009): 76–85.
- Whitehead, Malcolm T. "The Use of Echinacea to Improve Oxygen Transport Capacity." Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy 01.02 (2011).
- Sterer N, Nuas S, Mizrahi B, et al. "Oral malodor reduction by a palatal mucoadhesive tablet containing herbal formulation." J Dent. (2008): 535-539.
- Rondanelli M, Riva A, Morazzoni P, et al. "The effect and safety of highly standardized Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) extract supplementation on inflammation and chronic pain in NSAIDs poor responders. A pilot study in subjects with knee arthrosis." Nat Prod Res. (2017):1309-1313.
- Sharma M, Schoop R, Suter A, Hudson JB. "The potential use of Echinacea in acne: control of Propionibacterium acnes growth and inflammation." Phytother Res. (2011): 517-521.
- Yotsawimonwat S, Rattanadechsakul J, Rattanadechsakul P, Okonogi S. "Skin improvement and stability of Echinacea purpurea dermatological formulations." Int J Cosmet Sci. (2010): 340-346.
- Weber W, Taylor JA, Stoep AV, Weiss NS, Standish LJ, Calabrese C. "Echinacea purpurea for prevention of upper respiratory tract infections in children." J Altern Complement Med. (2005):1021-1026.
- Tiralongo E, Lea RA, Wee SS, Hanna MM, Griffiths LR. "Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of echinacea supplementation in air travelers." Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2012).
- Masteikova R, Muselik J, Bernatoniene J, Bernatoniene R. "Antioxidative activity of Ginkgo, Echinacea, and Ginseng tinctures." Medicina (Kaunas). (2007): 306-309.
- Miller, Sandra C. "Echinacea: A Miracle Herb against Aging and Cancer? Evidence In Vivo in Mice." Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2.3 (2005): 309–314.
- "Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea)." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.