First becoming popular in the early 1900’s, Echinacea has become a hugely popular health supplement for its many health benefits. Originally used in North America, Echinacea was initially applied as a means of combating infection from snake bites and anthrax.
Within 20 years its herbal applications were becoming widely recognized in mainland Europe, where it began to be used as a means of treating cold and flu.
Echinacea’s active ingredients
Containing a complex combination of substances such as phenols, Echinacea has been suggested to have antimicrobial functions, which have a positive effect on the human immune system. Also working to boost the immune system, Alkamides combine with the other substances contained within Echinacea, including Polysaccharides and glycoproteins, to provide strong health benefits.
Echinacea as a means of treating the common cold
Although boasting a dubious reputation over its time of popular usage, recent studies have displayed positive results towards Echinacea’s positive effects.
University of Connecticut Pharmaceutical scientists conducted a review of over 12 studies into Echinacea. The results showed that Echinacea can reduce the risk of getting a cold by up to 58%.
In 2012, one of the largest studies into the drug was conducted by the Cardiff University Common Cold Centre, which focused on over 750 participants. Over the course of 4 months, the amount of those taking Echinacea 3 times daily who suffered from a cold went down to 23%.
Modern day applications of Echinacea
In addition to being a successful method of cold treatment, Echinacea also has several other health applications that are just starting to be discovered:
- Rattlesnake bites
- Gum disease
- The flu
Advice before taking Echinacea
Those behind the marketing of natural remedies often lean on the harmlessness of non-pharmaceutical treatments as a means of boosting their sales. The National Institute of Health (NIH), however, strongly advises consumers of Echinacea to always buy from a reputable source.
Regulatory tests have found that a small proportion of market products advertising as Echinacea have in fact contained little or sometimes none of the substance. Some of the cheaper products have rendered distressing lab results also, with some of them even showing traces of arsenic and lead.
The NIH has reminded consumers that ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean harmless, as displayed by this list of natural and sometimes deadly plants and products:
- Deadly nightshade
This is one of the most toxic plants in the world. Most frequently found in the northern hemisphere, Deadly Nightshade is highly dangerous to humans.
- Apple seeds
Surprisingly, apple seeds contain amygdalin, a poisonous cyanogenic glycoside. Although the seeds from one apple aren’t harmful, large quantities could result in a fatal dose.
So as recommended, always buy from a renowned supplier and enjoy the health benefits of this miraculous plant.