by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
When it comes to herbal products out on the market, echinacea supplements are one of the first ones that strike our minds, right? But have you ever wondered what makes echinacea so powerful? Let’s explore more about this versatile flower.
Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is a flowering plant in the daisy family. It is one of the most popular herbs globally and is native to North America. As per studies, the Echinacea group has nine species, but just three are used as herbal supplements, i.e., Echinacea Angustifolia, Echinacea Purpurea, and Echinacea Pallida.
The herbal remedy is used to help boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, treat colds and coughs, and provide various other benefits. Here are a few health benefits you probably didn’t know about echinacea and echinacea supplements.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition or disease. You should always consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen to ensure you are healthy enough to do so and to ensure the supplements will not interact with any medications you may currently be taking.
The Health Benefits of Echinacea and Echinacea Supplements
Below are some of the many health benefits you may experience when using echinacea and echinacea supplements.
1. Boosts immune system
Echinacea is best known for boosting the immune system. Studies show that it helps to combat various infections and viruses, which can help to recover faster from the illness. This is why echinacea is most commonly used to treat the common cough and cold.
A review of 14 studies shows that echinacea shortens the duration of colds by one and half days and lowers the risk of developing a cold by more than 50%. So, having a cup of echinacea tea or using echinacea supplements can help you recover at a faster rate.
2. Lowers blood sugar level
High blood sugar level leads to various health-related problems, including Type-2 diabetes, heart diseases, and several other chronic diseases.
Echinacea Purpurea extract helps to suppress the enzymes which help in digesting carbohydrates. This reduces the amount of sugar entering in blood.
3. Calms down anxiety
Anxiety is a common issue and affects 1 in 5 adults in the US. And echinacea supplements have proved to be a potential aid for anxiety. Echinacea contains compounds like rosmarinic acid, alkamides, and caffeic acid, which help to reduce the feeling of anxiety.
Another study found that the extract of Echinacea Angustifolia helps reduce feelings of anxiety in both humans and mice.
4. Helps treat skin issues
Echinacea is known to treat skin-related problems. Echinacea has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which help to suppress the growth of Propionibacterium (which can cause acne).
A study shows that skin care products that contain echinacea extract improve skin hydration and help minimize wrinkles. And a cream containing Echinacea Purpurea extract is known to improve the eczema symptoms and protect the skin’s thin and outer layer.
5. Contains antioxidant properties
Echinacea is loaded with various antioxidants like flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, and cichoric acid. It helps to reduce oxidative stress, which is closely linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, and much more.
The antioxidants are higher in the fruit or flower extract as compared to other parts like roots or leaves.
6. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s way to promote healing and defend itself.
Echinacea contains anti-inflammatory properties, which help in reducing excess inflammation. A 30-day study shows that echinacea supplements can help reduce inflammation, swelling, and chronic pain.
Another mouse study shows that the echinacea compound helps to reduce inflammatory markers and memory loss that can be caused by inflammation.
The Side Effects of Echinacea and Echinacea Supplements
Echinacea, if consumed in small quantities, is safe. But there can also be various side effects, including rashes, itchy skin, nausea, swelling, stomach pain, and more. These side effects are more common in people who are allergic to flowers like daisies, marigolds, etc.
Since echinacea is known to boost the immune system, people with autoimmune disorders should avoid it or at least consult a doctor before using something like echinacea supplements.
At the time of writing this article, there is no official dosage recommendation for echinacea or echinacea supplements. However, as per research, the following doses can help to aid the immunity of the body:
- Dry powder extract: 300-500 mg (3 times/day)
- Liquid extract tinctures: 2.5 ml (3 times/day)
These recommendations are for short-term use, as the long-term effects are still unknown. It is better to consult your healthcare professional before you add echinacea or echinacea supplements to your routine.
Echinacea seems to be one of the best herbal remedies that you can utilize for your health. From boosting immunity to calming anxiety, it offers numerous health-related benefits.
Winter is around the corner, so having a cup of echinacea or using echinacea supplements can help fight off common colds and ailments. Plus, it can also speed up the recovery process and can help you get back to your workouts faster.