I suppose I should start by saying that the early days of my relationship with echinacea were a pretty stormy affair – it was introduced to me by an ex-girlfriend who had a great deal of knowledge on natural remedies.
If I’m honest with you – in those days (early twenties) I thought she was full of s##t!
Back then natural remedies were well known, but most of us were blissfully unaware of how effective they could actually be.
So, bearing this in mind, why am I choosing to write an article on the benefits of taking echinacea?
Good question, I’ll explain…
What is it With Plane Journeys and Viruses?
So I was going out with a girl that was well into her natural remedies…well….natural EVERYTHING really!
That wasn’t really a problem – it’s what first attracted me to her. She was different, and very good looking! 🙂
We had been seeing each other for about a year and we decided to take a 10 day holiday to Eastern Europe, which turned out to be great, but the plane journey home managed to infect me with one of the most hideous cold-type viruses I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing.
I was in a bad mood – my holiday felt like it had been ruined by this last gasp virus and I was stuck back in the Welsh weather feeling awful.
It didn’t take long for my ex to get on the herbal train and start banging on about what natural remedies could clear this infection up. I was in no mood to argue with her as I didn’t have the energy…
So I started taking her ‘top’ suggestion of echinacea.
Yep, it really did work…surprisingly well!
So, echinacea was my first real step into the world of natural remedies, and I was curious to find out more about this herbal savior that sparked my interest in healthier living…
What Exactly is Echinacea?
Surprisingly, echinacea is nothing more than a member of the daisy family – a bog standard plant at the end of the day!
It’s often referred to as a purple coneflower, which rolls off the tongue a lot easier.
The name derives from the Greek word ekhinos (hedgehog) because the cone looks a lot like a small hedgehog.
Overall, there are nine distinct species of this plant but many of them are considered ‘endangered’ so it’s important to be sure about what you are picking (we don’t want you to get into trouble do we?).
Will I Find It Growing at the Bottom of my Garden?
Well at a guess – no…
Unless you live in the central and eastern parts of the good old US of A.
Research indicates that the Native Americans used the flowers, leaves and roots of this plant for remedies, centuries ago.
These days it is certainly re-gaining popularity and can be easily harvested and cultivated in these American areas (central and eastern parts).
The Benefits of Taking Echinacea
What are the benefits of taking echinacea? Although there seems to be an infinite number of echinacea benefits, these are the ones which stand out…
1) Combats Cancer
This was a really surprising one for me – and I only found out about it recently (about two months ago!).
Apparently recent research on this plant seems to indicate that phytochemicals contained in it are great for the fight against tumors.
Now, I’m no doctor, and I struggle to re-word medical reports (who doesn’t?). So, if you’re interested in finding out more about echinacea in cancer treatment I recommend checking out one of the in-depth articles about it online.
Here is a decent one I came across this morning – echinacea in cancer treatment.
2) Gives The Immune System a Good Kick!
This wonder plant manages to cut the chances of having a cold by 58% – that’s from a study published by the University of Connecticut.
On top of that, the study also concludes that echinacea reduces the duration of the common cold by almost 48 hours.
3) It Acts as a Natural Painkiller
Apparently, the Great Plains Indians first started using echinacea when they discovered it acted as a powerful painkiller. Headaches, stomach pains, toothache…even snake bites!
You name it and echinacea can probably nail it on the pain front!
Some common ways to use echinacea to combat pain is to drink the herbal echinacea tea.
You can also opt to mash it down into a paste and apply it directly to the area on your body that is causing you pain.
4) It Can Act as a Laxative
As I touched on above in the painkiller section – echinacea is particularly effective at healing gastrointestinal (or stomach) problems.
Medical Herbalism have published a report that recommends echinacea as a mild and natural laxative for constipation relief.
From what I gather, the tea version of the plant is best for this. One cup a day can relieve the more ‘common’ pressure, whilst two to three cups can really help with sudden bouts.
It goes without saying that you should probably not go overboard with this herbal consumption – always read the supplement packet before ingesting the plant (there are guidelines you know!).
5) It’s Good For Your Skin
Actually, my partner pointed this fact out – so you can thank her for this section of the article (because I had no idea that echinacea benefits the skin!).
Armando González Stuart, PhD, has written and published a paper on how the Native American tribes have used echinacea for skin conditions over the years. Apparently it is very effective on…
- Arthropod bites
- Inflammatory skin conditions
- Snake bite
- Skin infections
- Wound healing
He also believes that the Native American tribes used it for skin regeneration.
6) It Helps in the Fight Against Mental Health
Again, this is a subject I have read about…but I’m no medical professional at the end of the day!
Echinacea angustifolia is a species of the plant which is known to help with adults and children who suffer from ADD/ADHD.
Apparently, this form of the plant can help with the anxious feelings, depression and social phobias they suffer.
Echinacea – Conclusion
Well all of this has been pretty positive so far right? What a wonderful plant!
But please stop for a minute and remember that too much of any supplement is probably a BAD idea!
Apparently, high doses of echinacea can sometimes cause nausea and dizziness, particularly in those who have allergies.
I’ve also heard that overdosing on the plant can lead to diarrhea, disorientation, dry mouth, fever, headache and insomnia.
As always – it’s a good idea to read the guidelines before taking ANYTHING!
What are your thoughts on this natural wonder plant?
Have you used it to cure any problems that I have not mentioned in the article above?
Over to you – we would love to hear about your experiences with echinacea, please leave them in the comment section below.