How does Echinacea help?
By Tash Hughes of
Although there are different opinions on the benefits of
using Echinacea medicinally, many people use Echinacea
every day. Echinacea is used by Native Americans,
Eastern health practitioners, Westerners and homeopaths.
There is certainly a general acceptance that Echinacea
helps reduce the severity and duration of colds and flus.
Other ailments are also treated successful with
Echinacea, and have been for hundreds of years.
The following details give some indication of how
Echinacea may be beneficial to human health.
Antibacterial and antiviral
Echinacea is a mild antibiotic and is effective against
staphylococcus and streptococcal (two common bacteria
causing infections in humans.)
prevents the formation of an enzyme called
hyaluronidase. This enzyme is produced by microbes and
destroys the cell walls and allows the virus or bacteria
to penetrate the cell.
also aids in the production of interferon which kills
viruses such as those causing the flu and herpes.
There is some indication that Echinacea may also be
effective against fungal and protozoan infections (eg
Stimulation of the immune system
There are a number of components of Echinacea that can
It increases the migration of white blood cells
which will fight any foreign bodies (such as
bacteria) in the blood
Large polysaccharides produce T cells which are
critical for the regulation and control of the
Fatty acids provide energy to boost the immune
This may make Echinacea useful in treating cancers in
the future but research so far is very limited.
Echinacea can stimulate the healing of wounds and bites.
It can also help treat burns, ulcers, psoriasis and
eczema when applied directly to the skin.
can reduce the amount of swelling and reaction in the
lymphatic swelling of disorders such as arthritis. This
is also why Echinacea has been used for snake and insect
There are a number of components likely to give
Echinacea its anti-inflammatory properties.
Please note that Echinacea is NOT recommended for people
with autoimmune diseases or an allergy to daisy flowers
of the daisy family which includes ragweed,
chrysanthemums and marigolds. Some drugs have been shown
to be less effective if used with Echinacea in
laboratory tests – this may or may not be relevant to
humans so get advice if you take itraconazole,
fexafenacline or lovastatin.
There are differing opinions on the side effects of
using Echinacea so this should be considered before
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