Staying healthy is important for everyone. With all those supplements and herbal solutions out there, it makes you wonder if they even help at all. From pills to oils to teas, there are tons of natural products that claim to promote good health. Among the most popular herbs out there is echinacea.
But What Exactly is Echinacea?
A beautiful purple coneflower grown in the prairies and forests of North America, echinacea is a member of the daisy family. Commonly found in health food stores, the flower’s top and roots are often used to make tea, herbal supplements, tinctures, and extracts.
Echinacea is primarily known for boosting the immune system. The flower is thought to fight infection, viruses, and help the body recover faster from illness. Many people regularly take it to prevent catching the common cold.
Top Benefits of Taking Echinacea
- It’s high in antioxidants
- Helps soothe sore throats
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves body immunity
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- May reduce anxiety and stress
How to Use Echinacea
There are several ways that you can use echinacea every day. And the good news is that since most forms have a generous expiration date, they last for a long time. It’s a great staple for your medicine cabinet!
Teas – Steep the tea for several minutes and drink while hot. Add a little honey or agave to sweeten things up.
Oils – Take a few drops orally when inflammation and cold symptoms begin to show.
Tablets – Take 1-2 pills (or as directed) when you notice cold symptoms.
Tinctures – Flush out cuts and wounds with ethanol-based tinctures or take pure food-grade tinctures orally for overall health benefits.
So Does it Really Help with Common Colds?
Several studies have shown a positive effect from taking echinacea in either tablet form or by drinking the tea. Though it won’t cure a cold right away, it can help shorten the time it takes to heal from a cold or flu. The key is to take it as soon as you notice common symptoms like the sniffles.
Since there are fewer studies and regulations on natural herbal remedies, there isn’t enough data to say it will definitely help you heal faster from the common cold or flu. Everyone reacts differently to herbal supplements and medications, so giving it a try is the best way to figure out if it’s beneficial or not.
Who Can Use Echinacea?
There are lots of products on the market that everyone in the family can take, but it’s always recommended to consult with a doctor before trying anything new. This is especially important for anyone who is currently taking medication or for children under 12 years of age.
While echinacea is quite safe to ingest, it’s important to find the right product. Some products will have 100% pure extracts, while others might be a blend with other ingredients.
Common Side Effects
Since health supplements use most of this flowering plant, the likelihood of feeling side effects from taking echinacea is much higher with anyone who suffers from allergies or has an autoimmune condition.
The most common side effects that people have encountered are:
- Upset Stomach
- Shortness of Breath
Echinacea has been used for reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system for centuries and has recently become a popular product sold in health food stores. With the variety of products available today, the next time you feel a little under the weather, perhaps a soothing tea or pill extract can help fight the symptoms before they get out of hand.