(Natural News) The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a flowering plant native to North America. Besides being attractive, it possesses powerful health-boosting abilities that make it a good potential treatment for various common diseases, such as cold and the flu.
Everybody contracts cold and the flu at least once in their lives. These two diseases go away on their own and are considered anything but serious, but many people would rather not have them. At their worst, their highly contagious nature and their annoying effects can disrupt one’s daily routine, including work and school.
Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) are a cheap and popular treatment for the symptoms of both cold and the flu. However, the rising concern over the side effects of paracetamol and other anti-inflammatory medications have led many to consider natural alternatives.
The purple coneflower, as well as other members of genus Echinacea, has become popular in recent years as a natural treatment for both cold and the flu. Its effects are backed by several studies.
A study published in Virology Journal tested the effectiveness of Echinacea extract against five influenza strains, including both bird flu and swine flu. The researchers investigated the extent of the extract’s ability to inhibit the viruses.
They found that the extracts were able to block the replication of the influenza strains by over 99 percent. Moreover, no buildup of resistance was observed in the viruses, unlike what was observed in some of the chemical medications used in the study.
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A more recent inquiry involving 464 adults and nine children and adolescents with early symptoms of influenza compared the effects of Echinacea syrup and a popular chemical antiviral medicine. Over 10 days of treatment, both researchers and participants noted that the Echinacea syrup produced results comparable to that of the antiviral medicine. The difference was that the former resulted in fewer indications of complications.
The authors of this study concluded that Echinacea is effective in treating flu, does not cause complications, and is ideal for self-care.
This study was published in Current Therapeutic Research.
The purple coneflower as an immunity booster
Purple coneflower is often used as a first-line treatment for both cold and the flu, in the place of chemical medicines like paracetamol. Others use it as a preventive measure, as a supplement to boost their immunity. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food proves that this particular use of the plant has actual merit.
The study emphasizes that stress can inhibit immune function. When this happens, even common diseases like the flu and cold which are usually warded off by a strong immune system can more easily afflict an individual. This impairment is also one of the reasons why people going through chronic stress become more prone to infections.
The authors of the study subjected mice to restraint stress. This involves restraining the mice’s movement and is used to model stressful and anxiety-causing situations in humans. The researchers then fed the animals pressed purple coneflower juice and analyzed how the treatment affected the animal’s immune system.
They noted that the administration of the juice brought the animals’ immune processes back to normal. Moreover, purple coneflower restored the levels of cytokines in the mice’s blood. Cytokines are natural chemicals that aid in relaying messages related to the immune response. The treatment also increased the percentages of lymphocytes, a form of white blood cells crucial to immunity.
The researchers concluded that the juice of purple coneflower may indeed treat impairments in the immune response caused by restraint stress. (Related: Echinacea purpurea proven effective against radiation.)
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