Winter Wellness: Healing Benefits of Echinacea

Echinacea is a must have for any winter wellness cabinet.

One of the most well known herbal remedies, that is readily available in health food shops and pharmacies, echinacea tincture is often used in the colder months to support the immune system and reduce many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections, and conditions.

Echinacea is a native North American coneflower that was discovered and used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years by the Great Plains Indian tribes.

There are nine species of the echinacea plant. Echinacea purpurea is the most commonly used plant in herbal remedies. Echinacea purpurea, which bears beautiful purple flowers with long petals, is known for its herbal, antibiotic, anti-bacterial and healing properties.

Echinacea is rich in proteins, tannins, iron and copper content. It is loaded with vitamins A, C and E as well as fatty acids.

Echinacea contains active substances that enhance the immune system. It also relieves pain, reduces inflammation and offers hormonal, antiviral and antioxidant effects. Its uses include treatment of urinary tract infections, vaginal candida yeast infections, ear infections, athlete’s foot, hayfever and sinusitis.

Echinacea purpurea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, purple coneflower makes immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells including anti-tumour cells, and stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions.

Researchers have found that the highly active polysaccharides in echinacea boost the synthesis of T-cells. The T-cells are responsible for fighting infections and protecting the body from attack of viruses and bacteria. Echinacea also increases the viability of white blood cells, keeping your immune system in top-notch condition.

Echinacea can help encourage the immune system which may lead to faster recovery from illness, but this can be harmful for those with autoimmune disease. As with any herbal medicine, it is best to seek the advice of a herbal practitioner when using echinacea if you are pregnant or have a pre-existing condition.

Echinacea is available in different forms including tincture, tea and herbal powder capsules.

Although echinacea purpurea is usually used internally for the treatment of viruses and bacteria, it is now being used in the treatment of external wounds. It also kills yeast and slows or stops the growth of bacteria and helps to stimulate the growth of new tissue. It combats inflammation too, further supporting its use in the treatment of wounds.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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