Echinacea-A Natural Herb With Anti-Inflammatory and Immune Enhancing Effects

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Echinacea is a popular supplement for avoiding the common cold and boosting the immune system in general. This article talks about the research into the health benefits of Echinacea as well as its safety and the best products to choose if you decide this supplement is right for you.

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is a group of flowering plants belonging to the daisy family, Asteraceae. They are native to North America and commonly found in the central and eastern parts of the United States and Canada. People often use parts of these plants, such as flowers, leaves, and roots, to make herbal medicine. Echinacea is believed to help boost the immune system and is used to treat or prevent colds.

Different parts of the echinacea plant are believed to have health benefits, and they are used in various herbal remedies and supplements. The above-ground parts, including the flowers and leaves, are rich in antioxidant phenols that may help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

The roots of echinacea plants, particularly Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea, contain various bioactive compounds like alkamides, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides. These compounds are thought to have immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects.

What Are the Health Benefits of Echinacea?

Echinacea has some possible health benefits that people find helpful. Here’s a list of a few of them:

  • Slightly boosts immune system: Although some folks believe that taking echinacea can help strengthen their body’s defenses against cold and flu, a 2014 review of studies suggested only a relative risk reduction of 10% to 20%, which researchers said is not likely to be clinically significant. They pointed out that products available under the term Echinacea differ in their composition, mainly due to the use of variable plant material, extraction methods, and the addition of other components. [PMID: 24554461]
  • Reduces inflammation: Echinacea has ingredients that may help reduce swelling and irritation in the body. A study found that under real life conditions of Echinacea consumption, virus-induced stimulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines can be reduced. [PMID: 19107735]
  • Skin health: Some people use echinacea creams or ointments to help with skin issues, like acne. [PMID: 20830697]


Is Echinacea Safe?

Echinacea is generally safe for most people to use, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Allergies: If you’re allergic to plants in the daisy family, like ragweed or sunflowers, you might also be allergic to echinacea. Watch out for signs like itching or rashes if you try it.
  • Side effects: Some people might experience side effects like stomachaches, dizziness, or headaches when they take echinacea. If you notice any of these, talk to your doctor.
  • Long-term use: We don’t know for sure if it’s safe to take echinacea for a long time. It’s a good idea to use it for a short period and take breaks.
  • Interactions: Echinacea might not play well with some medicines, like ones for your immune system or liver. Make sure to ask your doctor if it’s okay to mix echinacea with your other meds.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There isn’t enough information to know if echinacea is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding moms. It’s best to play it safe and avoid it during these times.
  • Autoimmune Disease: Echinacea is known for boosting the immune system, which might not be a good thing for people with autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases happen when the immune system gets confused and starts attacking the body’s own healthy cells. Taking echinacea might lead to more symptoms or a worsening of the condition. People with autoimmune diseases often take medications to control their symptoms and keep their immune system in check. Echinacea might interact with these medications and change how they work. Some common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, celiac disease, Addison’s disease, myasthenia gravis, and vitiligo. If you have an autoimmune disease, it’s important to talk to your doctor before trying echinacea or any new supplement. They can help you figure out if it’s safe for you and guide you on how to use it properly.

Echinacea Interactions with Medications

Echinacea can sometimes interact with specific medications you’re taking. Here are a few examples of medicines that might not mix well with echinacea:

  • Immune system drugs: Since echinacea might affect your immune system, it could change how drugs like prednisone or cyclosporine work. It’s important to check with your doctor before combining them.
  • Medications Metabolized in the Liver: Echinacea might impact how your liver processes some drugs. If you’re taking meds like acetaminophen or atorvastatin, which your liver breaks down, talk to your doctor before adding echinacea to the mix.
  • Blood thinners: Echinacea might affect blood clotting, so combining it with blood thinners like warfarin could increase the risk of bleeding. Always consult your doctor before using echinacea if you’re on blood thinners.
  • Cancer medications: Echinacea may affect how certain cancer medicines work, like chemotherapy drugs. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, make sure to discuss with your doctor whether echinacea is safe to use.
  • Caffeine: Echinacea might slow down how fast your body breaks down caffeine. This could cause you to feel jittery or have a fast heartbeat. Be careful with how much caffeine you have if you’re taking echinacea.

There might be other medicines that don’t work well with echinacea. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before trying new supplements, especially if you’re already taking medications. They can help you figure out if it’s safe to use echinacea and guide you on the best way to take it.

What Supplements Interact With Echinacea?

Echinacea can interact with certain supplements too. Here are a few examples of supplements that might not go well with echinacea:

  • St. John’s Wort: This supplement and echinacea both might affect how your liver processes some substances. If you take both together, it could change how they work in your body.
  • Melatonin: Echinacea might change the way your body breaks down melatonin. If you use both at the same time, you could feel extra sleepy or have trouble sleeping.
  • Licorice root: This supplement might affect how your liver processes certain things, including echinacea. If you take both at the same time, it could change how they work in your body.
  • Other immune-boosting supplements: Since echinacea is thought to help your immune system, taking it with other immune-boosters, like zinc, might create different effects. Check with your doctor before combining them.
    • Astragalus: Like echinacea, astragalus is thought to help your immune system. Taking both together could make their effects too strong. It’s best to check with your doctor before combining them.
    • Elderberry: Since elderberry is also believed to boost your immune system, using it with echinacea might make their effects too powerful. Talk to your doctor before using both.

There might also be other supplements that don’t mix well with echinacea. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before trying new supplements, especially if you’re already taking other supplements or medications. They can help you figure out if it’s safe to use echinacea and guide you on the best way to take it.

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Order Echinacea Supplements

Echinacea Root -400 mg

Echinacea (purple coneflower) was once widely used by Native Americans and is now used by millions of consumers worldwide. This product utilizes the whole Echinacea root, which has all of its natural components in the amounts found in nature. Take 2 capsules 1 to 4 times daily as needed. Continuous high level consumption of this product for more than 2 weeks of each month is not recommended.

Amount Per 2 Capsule Serving
Echinacea Root … 800mg (Echinacea purpurea)

Summary

Echinacea is a popular herbal supplement that has been used for centuries to boost the immune system and fight off infections. Recent studies have suggested that it may also have other health benefits, including reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and improving skin health. Echinacea contains compounds that have been shown to stimulate the immune system, which may help fight off infections.

Food First

Although the discussion of overall diet was beyond the scope of this article, it should be top of mind. Not only will your overall food intake provide nutrients, it will have a profound effect on your gut microbiome. The tiny bacteria in your intestine are the modulators of your immune system. They can create molecules that are capable of turning genes on or off. They synthesize neurotransmitters. To avoid toxins, choose organic foods and avoid plastic packaging (even BPA-free) whenever possible.

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This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot warrant that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician.

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