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Echinacea benefits

Today, people use Echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu and reduce symptoms, such as sore throat (pharyngitis), cough, and fever. Many herbalists also recommend Echinacea to help boost the immune system and help the body fight infections.

General Uses

Several laboratory and animal studies suggest that Echinacea contains active substances that enhance the activity of the immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral, and antioxidant effects. For this reason, professional herbalists may recommend Echinacea to treat urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast (candida) infections, ear infections (also known as otitis media), athlete’s foot, sinusitis, hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis), as well as slow-healing wounds.

Common Cold

It is under debate that Echinacea helps prevent or treat the common cold or not.

A 2007 study by the University of Connecticut combined findings from 14 previously reported trials examining Echinacea and concluded that Echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by more than half, and shorten the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days

A 2003 controlled double-blind study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and documented in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that Echinacea extracts had “no clinically significant effects” on rates of infection or duration or intensity of symptoms.

NCCAM is continuing to support the study of Echinacea for the treatment of upper respiratory infections. NCCAM is also studying Echinacea for its potential effects on the immune system.

In Germany (where herbs are regulated by the government), the above ground parts of Echinacea purpurea are approved to treat colds, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and slow healing wounds. The root of the Echinacea pallida plant is also approved for the treatment of flu like infections. To relieve cold symptoms, Doctors note that antibiotics don’t work against cold viruses and can have side-effects. Rest, fluids, pain relievers and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms are generally recommended. Echinacea is believed to stimulate the immune system to help fight infections.

Native Americans may have used Echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections and wounds and as a general “cure-all.” Throughout history people have used Echinacea to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, and diphtheria. Echinacea is believed to stimulate the immune system to help fight infections.

The immunomodulatory effects of Echinacea preparations are likely caused by fat-soluble alkylamides (alkamides), which occur mostly in E. angustifolia and E. purpurea but not in E. pallid

In terms of cancer treatment, a couple of test tube studies imply that Echinacea may be useful when used in combination with cyclophosphamide. Using Echinacea with this or other chemotherapy agents that act as immunosuppressants, may allow the cancer fighting medicines to kill the tumors while still protecting the immune system. If this theory proves to be correct then Echinacea could possibly prevent many of the side effects of chemotherapy. More research is needed.

Econazole — Echinacea may be useful in combination with econazole, an antifungal agent used to treat yeast infections (such as athlete’s foot). When Echinacea is used together with econazole, recurrence rates of these infections may be reduced.

 More information about Echinacea


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February 2019
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