Everything You Need To Know About Echinacea
By Tyler Woodward
Echinacea, also known as the coneflower, is currently one of the most popular supplemental herbs on the market today for its many health benefits. Echinacea is a type of plant native to the United States and has been used by native americans as a form of plant medicine for centuries. Throughout history echinacea has been used to treat an assortment of conditions ranging from syphilis to scarlet fever. Although medicinal use of echinacea began to decline after the invention of antibiotics in the US, echinacea is still used today for a number or purported benefits.
Benefits Of Echinacea:
- May Alleviate The Common Cold - Echinacea has been used as a means of recovering faster from the common cold and may even be able to help prevent contracting the cold
- May Help Regulate Blood Sugar - A few in-vitro studies have found that echinacea has beneficial effects on reducing serum (blood) levels of glucose, thereby improving insulin sensitivity. One study found that echinacea was able to reduce the amount of fatty acids in the blood in mice and another study found that it activated the PPARgamma receptor that may help to improve insulin sensitivity.
- May Reduce Anxiety - Two studies found that echinacea extract was able to improve symptoms of anxiety in mice, while another study found that it was also effective in humans.
- May Be Anti-Inflammatory - One study in mice showed that echinacea extract was able to reduce the biomarkers of inflammation from endotoxin or lipopolysaccharides, the “bad” gut bacteria that can leak through our intestinal tract. Another study found that echinacea was more effective than certain NSAID’’s for alleviating inflammation.
- May Improve Skin Health - Echinacea may be able to improve acne, alleviate eczema, and reduce wrinkles by improving skin hydration.
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How Echinacea Works:
Although there is currently very little research on echinacea and its effectiveness in humans there is promise that it may be effective in treating a number of the conditions listed above. This is believed to be as a result of the unique chemical properties within echinacea including:
Through the chemical interactions of these compounds in the body it’s believed this is how echinacea exerts its effects. Echinacea has been found to have potential antioxidant, anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and mosquitocidal effects. It’s likely for these reasons that the native americans used echinacea to treat such a variety of conditions including:
- Hay Fever -
- Bacterial Infections - Such as candida and athlete’s foot
- Malaria -
- Syphilis -
- Sinusitis -
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How To Supplement With Echinacea:
There are three forms of echinacea each of which likely contains varying amounts of the chemical compounds responsible for their beneficial effects.
- Echinacea Purpurea
- Echinacea Angustifolia
- Echinacea Pallida
The most common supplemental form of echinacea is the purpurea which can be found both in encapsulated form and as a liquid in tinctures. Because there is a lack of research on echinacea supplements. According to examine.com dehydrated echinacea extract can be taken orally with up to 900mg daily split up throughout the day to administer the desired effect, while in the liquid form about 10mL split up throughout the day is used.
Additionally, make sure to get a high-quality echinacea supplement that is from a reputable source that preferably performs both heavy metal and purity testing.
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