Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), also known as purple cone flower, is a well established anti-inflammatory immunostimulant (activator of the immune system).
Because the flower is both strange and beautiful (I can relate), it is cultivated for its beauty in addition to its medicinal value.
Echinacea was used by Native American tribes, who have thousands of years of experience with herbs, passed down from generation to generation.
The plant was later adopted for use by North American settlers who became more interested in it between 1930 and 1980, likely due to an increased interest in immune system function.
What parts are used?
- Leaves and stems
What does it do?
- stimulates the immune system
- is anti-inflammatory
- helps prevent/treat colds and upper respiratory infections
- can ease pain in throat when combined with an antiseptic/antibacterial spray
- can shorten duration of a cold
How does it work?
Although its mechanism of action is not fully understood, echinacea contains chemicals which support the immune system.
- Alkamides – have an immunomodulatory effect and enhance promote antioxidants
- Polysaccharides – have an anti-inflammatory effect and can strongly inhibit coronaviruses
How is it administered?
- capsule or tablet
- tea or decoction
What are the side effects?
Echinacea may cause allergic reactions and side effects in people who are sensitive to other flowers in the daisy family.
According to healthline, side effects can include:
- Itchy skin
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
Echinacea should be avoided by:
- pregnant and breastfeeding women
- people with autoimmune diseases
- those using immunosuppressant drugs such as rapamycin
Summary: Echinacea is effective in activating the immune system, although we do not fully understand how it works. It can prevent and treat upper respiratory infections. It can have side effects but they usually occur in people allergic to plants in the daisy family.
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Aucoin, M., Cardozo, V., McLaren, M. D., Garber, A., Remy, D., Baker, J., Gratton, A., Kala, M. A., Monteiro, S., Warder, C., Perciballi, A., & Cooley, K. (2021, July 29). A systematic review on the effects OF Echinacea supplementation on CYTOKINE LEVELS: Is there a role in COVID-19? PubMed.gov . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8320399/.
Chen, X., Han, W., Wang, G., & Zhao, X. (2020, December 1). Application prospect of polysaccharides in the development of anti-novel coronavirus drugs and vaccines. International journal of biological macromolecules. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7358770/.