Gardening

8 excellent (and maybe unknown) uses for Echinacea

 

The medicinal plants are used in botanical medicine or herbalism call, which is responsible for the study of various parts of a plant for medicinal purposes. For thousands of years a popular knowledge has been woven about the use of these plants that were used to recover and maintain health.

In this article we are going to talk about one of the best known medicinal plants: Echinacea , a very interesting plant about which you may not have known some information.

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is a medicinal plant native to North America. The species most often used in herbal natural medicine are Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, and E. pallida.

The word “Echinacea” comes from the Greek “Echinos”, which means sea urchin or urchin. It probably got its name from the thorns found on the flower’s head.

The genus Echinacea is characterized by this type of flower that ends in thorns with a central receptacle in the form of a raised cone, the color of its flowers ranges from white, through pink to dark purple, the shape of the leaf varies from lanceolate to oval. They are very attractive slow-growing, drought-resistant plants known as cone flower.

For the record, echinacea has been used as a medicinal plant for more than 150 years and its flowers, leaves and roots are used to make medicines, each of its parts presenting different properties.

Active principles of Echinacea

If the root is analyzed, high concentrations of volatile oils are found, while the parts that grow above the ground, the aerial part of the plant, contain more polysaccharides, which are those that have the immune function of the plant.

Among the most predominant compounds we have caffeic acid and derivatives, apart from polysaccharides, which are also found in the plant and have immunomodulatory properties. The chemical components of the three Echinacea root species differ in their alkylamide content, while the composition of the aerial parts does not appear to differ significantly. Alkylamides are anti-inflammatory. It also contains quercetin, kaempferol and their glycosides.

It is one of the medicinal plants on which more clinical and pharmacological studies have been carried out. Echinacea extract is essentially from the top of the plant.

In Germany, this part of the flower was approved as a natural medicine for upper respiratory tract infections, and slow-healing wounds.

In a study conducted in the species E. purpurea , flavonoid-based compounds were detected in all anatomical organs of the herb, the largest amount being found in flowers.

8 uses of Echinacea

For centuries it was a very important natural medicine for Native Americans who made use of it for treatment of common fevers and minor infections, as well as typhoid fever, meningitis, malaria, diphtheria, etc .

In more recent works its stupendous benefits have been demonstrated, I will tell you some, approved by the European Scientific Organization on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) and accepted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA):

  • It is anticancer

In a study carried out it was shown that a regular diet with Echinacea increases longevity, acting on immune cells, as the first line of defense against cancer cells, raising the killer cells or natural killers (NK), in the bone marrow and in the spleen. These cells are essential elements in immunosurveillance against spontaneously developing tumors, a phenomenon that increases with aging.

  • Relieves cold symptoms

At the University of Connecticut, a study published in The Lancet magazine was carried out in which it was observed that Echinacea reduces the chances of contracting a common cold by 58%.

The study concludes that its most significant benefit is when used once cold symptoms appear, since they suggest that Echinacea stops the viral cold, in addition to alleviating the symptoms caused by upper respiratory diseases, acute sinusitis, pharyngitis, whooping cough , etc.

  • Healing action

It activates the formation of leukocytes and is bacteriostatic, that is, it prevents the reproduction of bacteria, blocks hyaluronidase, thus preventing infections from spreading, helping to restore the margins of open wounds, thus promoting their healing.

It is very effective when applied externally, reconstituting the injured tissue.

  • Anti-inflammatory action

It has excellent results as a treatment in patients with chronic arthritis and reduces joint inflammation by approximately 22%.

In a published study, the anti-inflammatory benefit of this species is demonstrated due to its similarity to cortisone, which allows us to think about the possible anti-inflammatory action of this species.

The National Institute of Health reports that it can even help with uveitis, or inflammation of the eyes . Also, unlike other synthetic anti-inflammatories, Echinacea does not cause heartburn.

  • Functions as a laxative

Many medicinal plants including Echinacea provide relief from constipation in a natural way. And this is one of the uses of echinacea, since it acts as a mild laxative, carminative (helps to expel gas) and diuretic. But in large doses, they can cause gastric alterations, so it is necessary to consume between one and three cups a day and not exceed said dose.

  • Helps in skin problems

Since ancient times it has been used by various Native American tribes, who used echinacea very frequently, such as improving skin lesions. But it was also used in cases of arthropod bites, with eczema, psoriasis and other common skin ailments.

  • Improves mental health

The effect of Echinacea, specifically the angustifolia species , has been studied as a natural medicine to treat cases of anxiety, depression and social phobias , showing a great improvement in the specified ailments.

  • Fight infections in general

Both taken orally and applied locally and externally to the skin, echinacea has been shown to reduce the rate of vaginal infections , recurrence of genital herpes , gum disease, and urinary tract infections .

How to take Echinacea

Echinacea is available without a prescription in most countries, including health food stores, has different presentations on the market, liquid extracts, dried herbs, capsules or pills, and as a tea.

The most common way to take it is by preparing an infusion of echinacea .

There is no standardized dosage, what has been shown in its use is a regular dose for immune support and in other studies it has been shown that taking it as soon as symptoms appear is more effective.

Contraindications of Echinacea

Data on long-term oral use are not available. If adverse events do occur, they tend to be transient and reversible, and the most common symptoms are gastrointestinal and skin-related.

However, the association of Echinacea with allergic reactions appears to be supported by few reported studies.

These reactions, although rare, suggest that atopic patients and those with asthma should carefully consider their use.

The use of Echinacea products during pregnancy and lactation is not advised.

In children under 12 years of age, as a precaution, it should not be administered according to reports from the Regulatory Agency for Medicine and Healthcare Products (MHRA) of the United Kingdom.

How to grow Echinacea?

If you want to cultivate this ancient medicinal plant, have your own cultivation, either to be part of the medical kit or as an ornamental plant, here are some tips to keep in mind.

There are different techniques for planting it.

Echinacea must be in a sunny climate, which has a minimum of 5 hours of daily sun exposure. In semi-shady locations it can also live.

It is recommended to grow it in light, loose and well-drained soils.

It must be plowed, and the soil must not be compacted at the time of planting since this would hinder the ability of the plant to take its roots.

The sowing should be done in the month of March or April, place the seed without burying it, generally the depth measurement is approximately twice its diameter.

At an average temperature of about 25 ° C, it could germinate, however, this technique gives a low percentage of germination.

It should be transferred to a pot and during the first summer keep it in a greenhouse, in the spring of the second year it can be planted in a permanent field.

If you want to get a new plant, you can divide the bushes in the fall or spring and repeat the process.

It is important that you avoid watering it excessively, and the soil is suitable for the plant, which allows its roots to oxygenate, since otherwise the roots may rot, due to the appearance of fungi.

After taking care of your plant and giving it the optimal conditions for its cultivation, it only remains to wait until the end of June to August for the presence of its beautiful flower to decorate our terrace or garden.

 

Sources

  1. Brousseau, M. & Miller, SC Biogerontology (2005) 6: 157. https://doi-org.db12.linccweb.org/ https://sci-hub.tw/10.1007/s10522-005-7951-8
  2. Wkly. Echinacea herbal remedies should not be given to children under 12 years old, (2012) 1416: 5. https://doi-org.db12.linccweb.org/ 10.2165 / 00128415-201214160-00016
  3. Huntley, AL, Coon, JT and Ernst, E. Drug-Safety (2005) 28: 387. https://doi-org.db12.linccweb.org/2165 / 00002018-200528050-00003
  4. Kurkin, VA, Akushskaya, AS, Avdeeva, EV et al. Echinacea purpurea flavonoids 
  5. Russ J Bioorg Chem (2011) 37: 905. https://doi-org.db12.linccweb.org/ 10.1134 / S1068162011070120
  6. Dimitrí, M. (1988) “Argentine Encyclopedia of Agriculture Gardening” T1 V. II: 1042 ED. ACME
  7. Paul Bergner, Echinacea: Eclectic Research, Its effect on the normal individual; with special reference to changes produced in the blood picture, Medical Herbalism 07-31-94 6 (2): 4-5

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