Where can I find Echinacea?
A member of a group of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family, Echinacea is a wild herb that is most commonly used as herbal medicine. Echinacea benefits a wide number of people in a diverse array of cultures. This herb has nine subspecies that are also known as the coneflower. Not surprisingly, they got their name from the shape and look of the flower. That is, the flower head has a cone-like form with a showy head. They grow around 140 centimeters tall and the flower head is around 15-20 centimeters wide. Although endemic, this herb can be found in the central and eastern parts of North America. As recently as the last decade it was also found cultivated in some parts of Europe.
Echinacea Medicinal Uses
The herbal medicine is extracted from the roots, flower stem, and flower head. It is extracted from only three of the subspecies of the Echinacea. You can find it mostly in tea, liquid extract, dried herbs, or capsules. This medicine is known to reduce the duration of the cold by a day as well as to reduce the strength of the symptoms of a cold. Apart from being used as a cold medicine, Echinacea is also used in curing such ailments as yeast infections and other types of venereal diseases.
Long before America was inhabited by Europeans, the native Americans used the roots of the Echinacea plant for reducing pain, or in other words as an analgesic. It was also used as an antiseptic, and for treating snake and bug bites. Additionally, even then, it was used for reducing the symptoms of the common cold like sore throat, high temperature, chest pain, pain in the bones, and other similar symptoms.
After the Europeans settled in North America they learned from the natives about the “healing” powers of the Echinacea & ginseng roots and started using it as an alternative herbal medicine. In the early 1760′s, people started using this root not only as human medicine, but also for animal treatment. Many horses had sore spots on the place where the saddle was placed, and this was easily treated with oil made from Echinacea.
Europe first heard of Echinacea’s root as a herbal medicine in the late 19th century. A great number of studies performed by scientist during that period of time show that this herb helps increase the body’s white blood cells count. This proves the Indians claim that Echinacea helps with infections, since raising the white blood cell count in the body is exactly what is needed to fight an infection.
At the start of the modern age, scientist started to research and test the effects of Echinacea flower on different diseases and started getting positive results. Over 400 studies have shown that this herb really helps battling the common cold, all kinds of bacterial infections, inflammation, wounds, and so on. Though not very credible, a few studies purport to show that its “healing powers” are nothing more than a placebo effect. One study from 1998 claims to show that Echinacea may worsen the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Accordingly, it is not recommended as a treatment for these diseases.
As mentioned before, there are a number of Echinacea benefits, the greatest of which is undoubtedly the effect it has on the symptoms of the flu and the cold. It boosts the immune system which helps in the battle with all kinds of viral diseases and infections. Each study gives different result but most of them are confirming that this herb can be used as a medicine. Another benefit from using this herb is not the treatment of the cold, but the prevention of the cold.
Some studies were made to see if Echinacea can cure or reduce the progress of cancer. Unfortunately, this is not among the long list of echinacea benefits. However, this herb does help patients deal with the side effects of chemotherapy. While on chemotherapy, a patient’s immune system is in a very weak state making the patient vulnerable to whole host of different illnesses which may worsen the patient’s health drastically. Echinacea helps the patients go through the chemotherapy more easily, without making their situation worse than it already is.
Echinacea sits at your local pharmacy alongside the many kinds of creams and oils that help to heal deep skin wounds. Echinacea benefits wounds by not only helping them heal faster, but also by reducing the pain in the area around the wound and preventing it from getting infected. Disturbingly, one of the most common usages of Echinacea is in the treatment of chronic hemorrhoids. Echinacea helps the swollen veins of the buttocks return to their normal state and it also reduces the pain and discomfort.