Echinacea is a member of the Asteraceae family and commonly known as purple coneflower.
Native Americans were the first to use Echinacea over 400 years ago. Before the rise of antibiotics, it was used as a general cure for various infections and wounds, such as malaria, scarlet fever and syphilis. Today products containing Echinacea for cold and flu relief have become part of mainstream prescribing. In fact, echinacea has become one of the most widely used herbal products and dietary supplements in Europe, North America, and Australia. Echinacea for kids is a very safe herbal medicine to help treat cold symptoms, providing there are no allergies to the plant.
The main active compounds of echinacea are phenolic compounds, alkylamides and polysaccharides. Many of Echinacea’s chemical constituents are powerful immune system stimulators and can provide a significant therapeutic action within the body.
It’s important to know that chemicals contained in the Echinacea root differ significantly from those in the upper part of the plant. The roots have high concentrations of volatile oils, while the parts that grow above the soil tend to contain more polysaccharides that are known to trigger immune function. Echinacea can be taken in the form of echinacea liquid extract, Echinacea tablets and echinacea pills/ capsules. Herbalists and Naturopaths would agree that when choosing an echinacea supplement, make sure the herb has been standardised to contain the active constituents (Alkylamides are used as the markers of quality and activity). The root of Echinacea is the preferred plant part, since it is highest in alkylamides.
If choosing an echinacea tablet make sure the tablet is an extract of the herb, rather than just the powdered herb.
The preferred species of Echinacea are E. angustifolia and E. purpurea since they contain high levels of alkylamides (compared to E. pallida)
Echinacea must be extracted using an alcohol percentage sufficiently high to efficiently extract the alkylamides.
Echinacea benefits include;
- Immune System support and modulation
- Anti- Bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral action
- Anti-inflammatory action
- Upper respiratory support
- Wound healing acceleration
Please be aware that if you have allergies to the daisy family, you're most likely to be allergic to Echinacea as well. Examples of daisy plants include marigold, ragweed and chrysanthemum.
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