As the weather begins to turn and we spend more time indoors, many people are already prepping for this year’s cold and flu season. However, before you go stocking up on cough syrup, you might want to consider turning to echinacea.
Also known as purple coneflower, echinacea has a medicinal history that goes back centuries. Native Americans found it to be an effective treatment for a variety of different ailments and illnesses. Today, it still has a plethora of benefits that make it worth learning more about.
Here are some of the top benefits of taking echinacea.
A stronger immune system
As mentioned, people have used echinacea throughout much of history to help treat viruses and infections. Modern studies seem to confirm its effectiveness at providing your immune system with a boost (1). This boost allows your body to fight off ailments more quickly.
However, it’s important to point out that more studies are needed to further identify how echinacea may be able to strengthen your immune system.
Lower blood sugar levels
High blood sugar puts you at risk for many different health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In one study, echinacea appeared to lower blood sugar levels by suppressing an enzyme that digests carbohydrates (2).
But again, scientists need to conduct additional research to determine the exact link between purple coneflower and blood sugar.
Around one in five Americans suffer from anxiety (3). Although research is ongoing, studies conducted on both humans and mice seem to show that echinacea can help reduce anxious feelings (4).
If you suffer from severe anxiety, however, it might not be worth it to experiment with traditional medicine. Speak with your doctor or a mental health counselor to see what they recommend.
If you’re someone who suffers from acne or other common skin concerns, purple coneflower might be the secret, natural ingredient you’ve been searching for.
As it has both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, echinacea is an effective ingredient in different skincare products. Results show that it can help repair the skin’s outer layer. However, it’s difficult to preserve, meaning that products which contain it might not have too long of a shelf life.
Provide anti-inflammatory benefits
Contrary to popular belief, inflammation is a natural bodily function that shows that your body is defending itself. That said, too much of it can be a bad thing, and can lead to long-term health concerns and chronic conditions.
Studies indicate that echinacea can help reduce inflammation in both humans and animals (5). Research also seems to indicate that it’s an effective alternative for those unable to take traditional anti-inflammatory drugs.
If you don’t have any serious or pressing health concerns, using echinacea as a way to treat mild pain and discomfort isn’t a bad idea. Just keep in mind that more studies are needed to show the exact positive impact it has on the body.
As always, make sure to consult with your physician before committing to any sort of supplement!