(Natural News) Echinacea (pronounced ek-in-nay-sha) is a medicinal plant used by Native Americans to treat snake bites and cure septic wounds. Its popularity today is founded on several studies that prove its efficacy in shortening the common cold and reducing fever. This small, purple flower is indeed a herb you should familiarize yourself with. Should you ever find yourself living off the grid and needing an all-purpose medicine, echinacea can be an ideal option.
We’ve listed eight science-based health benefits of echinacea. (h/t to GreenMedInfo.com.)
- Boosts immunity — Prevention is always better than a cure. A pilot study done in Australia concluded that people who took echinacea tablets daily for 14 days showed significant improvements in their immune activity, including increased white cell counts. Other studies made locally have likewise shown echinacea’s use in stimulating immune function. As such, patients who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or other acquired immunodeficiency syndromes are told to supplement their diet with echinacea.
- Supports red blood cells — People who take echinacea supplements have greater levels of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that promotes red blood formation.
- Protects against radiation damage — Researchers have observed a dramatic reduction in chromosome aberrations in lymphocytes in workers exposed to radiation after taking 275 mg echinacea tablets daily for a few weeks. This implies that echinacea can help the body heal from cellular damage caused by radiation.
- Reduces the side effects caused by chemotherapy — Chemotherapy is an ineffective cancer treatment. Numerous studies prove that cancer patients actually worsen in health after being subjected to the treatment. Oncologists themselves would not take the treatment or suggest it to their family and friends. Still, those who choose chemotherapy can find relief in echinacea. Studies suggest that supplementing with the herb can increase white blood cell counts and improve immune function.
- Treats influenza — Scientists have noted that echinacea is more effective than conventional flu medications in treating the condition. Moreover, the herb was recorded to have fewer side effects and was easier tolerated. (Related: Echinacea preparation as effective as Tamiflu in early flu cases in large clinical trial.)
- Alleviates symptoms of the common cold — This is the most common use of the herb today. At least 15 clinical trials found that echinacea products can prevent and treat the common cold. Studies have seen that echinacea can shorten the duration of a cold by around 1.4 days and decrease the likelihood of developing the condition by almost 60 percent. Another set of data show that drinking echinacea tea at the first signs of the cold or flu can lessen the severity and duration of the illness.
- Resolves eye infections — Echinacea can be used to treat autoimmune uveitis (inflammation of the middle level of the eye). The herb’s efficacy was recorded to be 70 percent more effective compared to not taking any supplement.
- Reduces wrinkles — Creams that are infused with echinacea increase skin hydration significantly. The resulting effect is reduced wrinkles. Echinacea creams are found to decrease the appearance of wrinkles by around 15 percent.
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Echinacea can be taken as a tablet, tea, or tincture. If you want to read about more health benefits of the plant, along with other healthful herbs, go to Herbs.news.