Amidst the change of seasons from the blossoming spring towards sweltering summer, there has been an uprising of different types of seasonal flu, common cold and ongoing viral infections that have highly compromised the natural immunity of a healthy being. People are more susceptible to these environmental changes because the human body functions differently in each season. Hence, it is extremely necessary to add selective foods, herbs and spices in the lifestyle for the smooth functioning of the overall immune system. And much to our respite, amongst the huge variety of herbs and plants that Mother Nature has bestowed us with, one such potent immunity-boosting herbaceous plant is Echinacea Angustifolia.
What is Echinacea Angustifolia?
Echinacea is a perennial herb that ranges from 10 to 60 cm in height. They are highly resilient and drought resistant even though in such conditions their growth is slowed. They thrive well in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. The herb has short, bulb form, thickened, and black root, while the stem is simple and branched. Leaves are usually shaped lanceolate to ovate, with daisy-like flowers. Each “flower” or daisy-like head unit is actually a conglomeration of many tiny florets giving it the appearance of a spiny cone.
Echinacea usually comprises of a group of herbaceous flowering plants of the daisy family with nine species, commonly named purple coneflowers. It is native in eastern and central North America. The generic name comes from the Greek word ‘ekhinos’ which means “hedgehog,” due to the plant having a spiny central disk.
Amongst the nine species and various subspecies, while some are grown for ornamental purposes, species like Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea, are widely used for their curative qualities. The herb has manifold therapeutic properties and is an ultimate remedial measure for a lot of health anomalies like breathing trouble, cough, and cold, nasal congestion, sore throat, asthma, bronchitis, other upper respiratory tract infections, blood poisoning, mild septicemia, furunculosis, and some skin problems, for example, boils, carbuncles, and abscesses.
Common Names Of Echinacea
Depending upon the part of the world the plant is found, local names of Echinacea include black sampson, black sampson coneflower, narrow-leaved coneflower, purple coneflower, roter sonnenhut, snakeroot, narrow-leaf coneflower, combflower, hedgehog, red sunflower, rudbeckia, snakeroot, rock-up-hat, roter sonnenhut, kansas, and zonnehoed.
Nutritional Content Of Echinaceae
Famed as a natural expectorant, Echinaceae has an impressive concentration of bioactive components like caffeic acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, polyacetylenes and many more. Imbued with powerful properties like antioxidant, antitussive, bronchodilator, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, etc, the herb is highly beneficial for a host of therapeutic indications like upper respiratory infections, bacterial infections, gingivitis, tonsilitis, anxiety, skin infections, typhoid, malaria, diphtheria, headache, indigestion, pain, snake and other insect bites etc.
Health Benefits of Echinaceae
Relieves Cough And Cold
Recurrent coughs and congested throat can cause a lot of discomfort and prevent a peaceful good night’s sleep while making you feel tired and exhausted. The high concentration of anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and expectorant properties, makes Echinacea pivotal in treating the common cold, cough and flu symptoms. It also reduces chest and nasal congestion gets rid of excess sputum and stops nasal discharge. It is also highly effective in treating asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and other respiratory illnesses.
Bolsters Immune System
The abundance of antioxidants and caffeic acid present in Echinacea makes it one of the well-known folk remedies for improving the immune system, fighting microbes and shielding the body against various infections. It also portrays the presence of strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties, which not only helps in removing bacteria or germs from the body but also facilitates healing wounds. It effectively stimulates the production of white blood cells and helps in neutralizing the free oxygen radicals throughout the body. The biochemical constituents also help in reducing general debility, weakness, and fatigue and improve the vitality of the body.
Relaxes The Mind
Thanks to the presence of adaptogenic, hypnotic, and sedative properties, coneflowers not only improve the mood but also relieves stress. It holds high significance in normalising the stress hormone, i.e., serotonin hormone level under control. This helps to reduce various symptoms of anxiety which includes uneasiness, restlessness, cold hands, and feet, etc. By relaxing the mind, it is also extremely crucial in remedying different types of psychotic problems like depression, dementia, etc.
Augments Skin Health
Loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, Echinacea is used for treating oxidative free radical damage due to the sun rays, and hence treats the various signs of aging like wrinkles, fine line, spots, dark circles, etc. It is also highly effective in reducing acne, pimples and hence topical application of coneflower formulations bequeath a smooth and glowing skin.
Reduces The Risk Of Cancer
The antioxidants and phytonutrient properties of this herb helps to prevent different types of cancer such as lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer & prostate cancer. Several pieces of research show that the presence of bioactive components like caffeic acid, alkamides, and phenolic acids, help to alleviate the effects of free radical damage thus reducing the risk of cancer. It also helps in the repair and production of new DNA, that might prevent cancer cells from forming due to mutations in the DNA.
The exact therapeutic dosage of Coneflower may vary from person to person depending upon the age, body strength, effects on appetite, severity, and condition of the patient. This herb is widely available in many different types of products, including supplements, liquids, creams, mouthwashes, and throat sprays. The accurate dosage chiefly depends upon the type of formulation being used. It is strictly advised to consult a doctor or medical practitioner as he or she would evaluate the patient’s indications and prescribe an effective dose for a specific period.
Coneflowers are extremely beneficial if taken in prescribed amount for a short time period. But an excessive intake of it without consultation may lead to fever, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, unpleasant taste, stomach pain, diarrhea, sore throat, headache, numbness of the tongue, insomnia, disorientation, dizziness, joint and muscle aches. In rare cases, echinacea has been reported to cause inflammation of the liver. In some cases, application of this herb on the skin can cause redness, itchiness, or a rash. This flower may also cause allergic response in adults and children who are allergic to daisies, marigolds, ragweed, chrysanthemums, and more.
This amazing Immune-boosting herb enriched with nutrients has umpteen health benefits including treating cough and cold, asthma, managing skin infections and other microbial infections, treating gingivitis and tonsilitis, boosting immunity and providing relief from sore throat and sinusitis. Consume this powerful medicinal plant in prescribed amount during the flu season to shield your body from various infectious diseases.