Echinacea Root: Benefits, Side Effects, and More
Echinacea is a group of Native American medicinal herbs that have historically been used in medicine for centuries. Echinacea root is high in plant compounds that act as antioxidants and may support human health in a number of different ways. Wanna know how echinacea root benefits the human body? Ccontinue reading to learn more.
This article will review some of the most common benefits of echinacea root along with potential side effects and necessary precautions. But before we get intohow echinacea can benefit human health, first, we’ll need to understand the basics of echinacea plants a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
What is echinacea?
Echinacea refers to a group of flowering medicinal plants in the daisy family that are native to North America. Altogether, nine species have been recognized in this group, but only three are commonly used for medicinal purposes - Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinacea pallida. They are also known as purple coneflower plants.
Although both the plant’s root and upper parts are used in medicine, the root of the plant is believed to contain plant chemicals in higher concentrations and is supposed to be more potent and efficient when it comes to therapeutic effects.
Echinacea and the compounds it contains have been linked to various health benefits such as improved immunity, lowered blood sugar levels, and reduced inflammation. Today, echinacea root is widely used to make dietary supplements in the form of extracts, tinctures, tablets, and teas.
Plant compounds in Echinacea
Echinacea root is loaded with an impressive variety of plant compounds and many of which can act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that are vital for protecting cells and tissues from oxidative stress, a biological state that has been linked to cell damage and chronic health conditions.
Some common chemicals found in echinacea may include:
- Volatile oils
These chemicals play a significant role to produce the therapeutic benefits of echinacea.
Echinacea root benefits
Research has linked echinacea root and its chemicals to several health benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Echinacea may help strengthen the immune system
Echinacea is perhaps best known for its favorable effects on the immune response. This effect seems to come from the high levels of antioxidants in echinacea.
Echinacea may help reduce inflammation
Although inflammation is the body’s natural response to promote healing, sometimes it can get out of control and increase the risk of other chronic health problems. Multiple studies have shown that echinacea can help control excess inflammation.
A 2021 systematic review of more than 100 studies investigating the effects of echinacea on cytokine levels concluded that supplementation of echinacea is associated with decreased levels of various inflammatory markers.
Echinacea may help lower blood sugar levels
Echinacea may help relieve feelings of anxiety
Echinacea has been recognized as an emerging potential anxiety aid over recent years. Research has discovered that some compounds in echinacea may help lower feelings of anxiety.
In a double-blind clinical trial in Phytotherapy Research published in 2020, researchers have confirmed that echinacea has noticeable beneficial effects on anxiety.
Echinacea may help with common skin concerns
Several studies have found that echinacea may help manage and prevent general skin concerns. For instance, a 2010 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that topical application of echinacea extract-containing products can reduce wrinkles and improve skin hydration.
How to use echinacea
Currently, there is no official recommended dosage for echinacea. Dosage and method of use may widely vary depending on individual aims and needs.
However, for dry powdered extract, a dosage of 300 mg to 500 mg is most often recommended by clinicians which can be taken three times a day. For liquid extracts, it is often recommended in a dosage range of 2.5 ml to 10 ml per day.
Echinacea is advised only for short-term use generally for up to 10 days. Clinicians advise taking echinacea with food or a large glass of water, but not on an empty stomach.
Side effects and precautions
Echinacea seems to be safe and well-tolerated for most people when taken as recommended. Reported side effects may include skin rashes and minor digestive issues. Although rare, some people may experience allergic reactions with symptoms of swelling, hives, and more.
Since echinacea is effective in boosting the immune system, people with autoimmunity or who are taking immunosuppressants should avoid it unless or until otherwise advised by a professional medical practitioner.
Although evidence suggests that echinacea doesn’t increase any risk of birth defects during pregnancy, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using it until more conclusive research is conducted.
Echinacea is an ancient herb that has historically been used in medicine for managing diverse health conditions. In modern research, echinacea has been found to be effective in improving immunity, anxiety, blood sugar, inflammation, and skin health. Suggested dosage and method of use vary depending on personal aims and needs. Always consider asking a certified natural medicine practitioner prior to using echinacea or any herbal remedies.