Echinacea is one of the best natural cures and home remedies for naturally boosting the body’s immune system. Used for centuries, it is considered a wonder herb for its many anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral uses. Commonly found in health food stores and whole food markets, it is recommended that Echinacea be kept on hand for daily use during certain seasons or environments, and for being readily available whenever the immune system has been compromised.
Hailing from the Asteraceae family, different Echinacea species are also scientifically known as Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida.
Other common names ascribed to this herb are:
- Scurvy root
- Indian head
- Black Sampson
- Black Susans
- Pale purple cone flower
- Purple cone flower
A tall perennial plant, Echinacea has leaves shaped like a lance, which grow to be approximately five or six inches long. Its flowers are purplish-pink with brownish-orange centers and are similar in shape to that of a daisy. Their flowers carry a sweet, honey-like scent, which blossom in the summer and early fall months.
Echinacea is readily available in tea, tincture, powdered and tablet form. The parts above the ground, including its stems, are commonly used in preparing the herb for medicinal treatment. However, the roots may also be used in certain preparations.
Commonly used in the treatment of ailments that have resulted from a weakened immune system, Echinacea is considered a powerful, immune-boosting herb. Some of the specific conditions it is useful for are:
- Common cold
- Chronic infections
- Yeast infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Respiratory infections
- Venereal diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Even in the absence of any of these illnesses, Echinacea can be taken regularly during cold and flu seasons to help strengthen a person’s immunity to such. It also has anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be attained by consuming it in one of the aforementioned preparations or by using it topically.
Externally, Echinacea is useful in the treatment of the following:
- Skin inflammations
- Skin infections
- Skin diseases
- Fungal infections
- Slow healing wounds
- Snake bites
- Sore throats (when used as a gargle)
Scientific research has proven that Echinacea is effective in stimulating the immune system to inhibit the ability of viral infections and bacteria to permeate and commandeer cells, thus it protects the immune system while strengthening it against attack.
As with any herb used for natural cures and home remedies, anyone under a doctor’s care should consult with a physician before using Echinacea. While often used in complimentary medicine, it may work to counteract prescribed immunosuppressive medications.
Likewise, pregnant and/or nursing women should always check with their health care practitioner before taking Echinacea or any other herb.
The long term effectiveness or safety of Echinacea is currently being studied, but as of yet, remains unknown.
Used for centuries as a medicinal herb by Native American tribes, Echinacea has also enjoyed a wide popularity in America and Europe as an herbal treatment. Today it is vigorously studied by medical researchers, many of which have concluded that it is, indeed, a natural immune booster useful in treating a variety of ailments.