It’s almost Halloween already… Thanksgiving isn’t far off either… And we all know what comes after turkeys, pumpkin pies and too much wine?… You might’ve said “winter”, or “Xmas shopping!”, but we were thinking more about those pesky colds & flus that might already be running rampant at your office or your kid’s school.
Tis’ the season to be congested, to lose sleep, and to feel the pressure in our sinuses as much as we feel the crunch in our bank accounts leading up to winter holidays. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how well-prepared or healthy you think you are, germs, viruses and bacteria spread fast & out-of-control before you can say “where’s the hand-sanitizer?!”.
We’ve all got our unique ways of dealing with colds or flus – chicken noodle soup, extra layers, seemingly inhuman amounts of vitamin C – but what if instead of relieving our symptoms of being sick we just focused our efforts on not getting sick in the first place?
When it comes to fighting the onsets of illness and treating those crippling, man-cold symptoms (or “I’ll be fine, just let me sleep” symptoms if you’re a lady), you can have your cake and eat it too with echinacea for colds.
Naturally, echinacea benefits your sinuses, clears your airways, alleviates nasty coughs and soothes your sore throats. How does a pretty, purple flower and its roots help your immune system? Let’s get to know the powers of this North American cold-fighting all-star by analyzing its history as a natural cold remedy, and determine how you can use it to turn cold & flu season into “the most wonderful time of the year”.
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WHAT IS ECHINACEA GOOD FOR?
Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia are two of the more prominent varieties of Echinacea that you will find in products today, although there are almost 30 different species of this well-known “purple coneflower”. It is native to North America and has played a prominent role in naturopathic & holistic medicine since (at least) the early 1800’s.
In fact, its history stretches back even farther as a favored remedy for snake bites, boils and cysts, scrapes & swelling, and all manner of cold-like symptoms amongst many Indigenous peoples of North America.
Echinacea used to be a very common site among the rolling hills of the Midwest and throughout the wilderness of Canada & the United States. However, since it became a household remedy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries it has unfortunately been over-harvested and is now much more rare in the natural world. That being said, Echinacea can still thrive in pockets across the continent, but you really need to know where to look to find this strikingly colorful flower.
Echinacea health benefits have been widely known for a seemingly long time, and yet there is a major disconnect between millions of Americans and the powers of natural/herbal remedies like echinacea sprays for colds.
One of the reasons why many people do not prefer to use it could have something to do with its bite – Echinacea oral sprays, tinctures and teas are known to have a semi-numbing feeling that is similar to menthol.
This is obviously part of the appeal when using echinacea for colds, as it provides fast, strong and long-lasting relief from sore throats, coughs and sinus congestion. Nevertheless, some first-time users of echinacea immune system boosters have remarked that it can be overpowering if you’re not familiar with its flavors/aromas.
We don’t know about you, but when we get sick we’re all for numbing, intense flavors that bite through the miasma of congestion, sore throats and irritable coughing fits. Still, some may prefer a more mild coating of their airways than the herbal zing of echinacea root products.
Echinacea benefits aren’t just targeted towards colds & flus, however, as they also extend to many of your important, daily upkeep of bodily functions. Case in point, echinacea health benefits include consistent lymph node functionality, promotes saliva production, balances mucus secretion, and is generally beneficial for detoxifying your body.
There are so many echinacea health benefits, but we’d like to focus on the top 4 uses today:
IV. Lymphatic Drainage
Echinacea can promote lymph node drainage and consistent flow, helping your body to purge itself of infections or viruses. Echinacea immune system effects are primarily supportive – echinacea root extracts and echinacea whole plant products work to support your body’s functionality. So, by promoting consistent detoxification in your lymphatic system, echinacea can boost your body’s ability to defend itself from infections, swollen nodes and stress.
Suitable Echinacea Treatments: lymphagogue, lymphatic swelling, general detox & cleanses,
III. Venomous Bites
Echinacea has been a longstanding remedy for the symptoms of rattlesnake bites and other forms of venom from poisonous plants. Echinacea flowers have an innate ability to counteract the immediate effects of pain & inflammation from a venomous snakebite. Introducing echinacea to the immune system can actually inhibit the poison found in rattlesnake venom – hyaluronidase. Similarly, echinacea has been ingested and applied topically to wasp/bee stings, spider bites and a variety of plant-borne rashes such as stinging nettle.
Suitable Echinacea Treatments: snakebites, bee stings, wasp bites/stings, scorpion stings, spider bites, stinging nettle, poison ivy
II. Cold & Flu Symptoms
Echinacea is one of the most widely used natural cold/flu remedies on the market today. Echinacea for immune system support or for immediate relief from congestion, coughs and sore throats makes up the majority of peoples’ experiences with this potent flower. Echinacea has even shown promise for counteracting the bacteria that causes strep throat (Streptococcus pyogenes).
Suitable Echinacea Treatments: sinus congestion/pressure, coughs, sore throats, strep throat, fatigue & lethargy brought on by illness, fever symptoms
Even though echinacea for colds is undoubtedly the most common use of the purple coneflower, it is actually most efficacious for treatment & prevention of infections. Treating everything from skin abcesses to respiratory infections, and oral bacterial infections (tooth aches/swelling) to urinary tract infections, echinacea benefits your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections from many angles of attack.
Echinacea has the dual-efficiency of being fast-acting and effective for both internal & external infections, so it has made its way into many different product types (tinctures, sprays, creams, gels, capsules, lozenges and more). What’s more, many people have had greater success when they ingest echinacea for immune system support as well as apply it topically or to the affected areas (sinuses, throat, face, scrapes, acne, etc).
Suitable Echinacea Treatments: urinary infections (ingestion), sinus infections (ingestion/oral spray), acne & skin infections (internal/external), strep throat (ingestion, oral spray), bacterial infections (oral spray, nasal spray, tea).
HOW DOES ECHINACEA WORK?
As is the case with many herbal/natural remedies, the wealth of public knowledge & trust in these kinds of products far outweighs the supporting research. It’s not a criticism of medical researchers, but naturally-derived remedies, supplements and health products are treated as inferior to pharmaceuticals. In many cases, there is simply a lack of definitive research for herbal remedies like echinacea, so determining the full-spectrum of echinacea’s health benefits can seem like you’re swimming in circles.
Nevertheless, echinacea for colds and echinacea for immune system support have many generally accepted uses among scholars, health practitioners and consumers alike.
Echinacea oral sprays for sore throats & coughs and nasal sprays for sinus congestion are some of the most popular ways to find relief from colds & flus with purple coneflower. Most of these products contain echinacea root extracts in a water-based spray applicator, offering a range of milligrams of potent echinacea extracts per pump.
These spray products offer some of the most direct- and fast-acting relief from soreness & swelling brought on by colds/flus – but be ready for intense echinacea flavors & aromas, soothing numbness and both heat and cooling sensations.
Ingestion (Tinctures, Capsules, Teas)
Drops from an echinacea tincture are excellent product choices because they offer the most customizable dose of all the product-types. Additionally, echinacea tinctures can be ingested orally and applied topically. However, it is important to note that many tinctures include alcohol as a base ingredient, so be aware of the potential stinging/burning sensations if you utilize an echinacea tincture for skin irritation or infection.
Echinacea capsules and tablets are one of the most convenient forms for getting relief from cold & flu symptoms. Most people take 1-2 capsules 2-3 times per day whenever they feel an illness coming on, but dosages will vary from one manufacturer to another so be sure to start low and dose slowly until you understand how a certain product makes you feel.
Echinacea teas have been a popular natural remedy for sore throats and coughs for many generations. Herbal teas include combinations of echinacea, elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D, chaga mushrooms and many other beneficial immune-support ingredients, and they can be brewed to your specific taste/strength needs.
External use of echinacea is not as popularized as ingestion, but as we’ve discussed this natural remedy can be very effective for fighting off skin infections such as acne, boils or abscesses. One way in which echinacea directly counteracts these kinds of surface infections is by increasing your body’s phagocytosis response.
Phagocytosis is your natural immune response that clears the body of potentially harmful microorganisms and damaged cells. By upticking your body’s phagocytosis response, echinacea helps to cleanse your body of toxins, impurities and any infectious bacteria. These same effects occur when you ingest echinacea products, but it is worth remembering that its anti-viral properties also apply to skin conditions like chronic acne, cysts or rashes.
Echinacea is meant to provide immediate and lasting relief from many symptoms of your colds & flus, but don’t forget that it can be a solid immune support when taken supplementally. Echinacea for colds or echinacea immune system support are not enough on their own to protect yourself from colds & flus.
Combining on-demand relief from echinacea with healthy diets, consistent exercise and health supplements whenever necessary will greatly improve your chances for strong, healthy immunity to the endless waves of colds & flus.
Echinacea is a very reliable natural remedy for most of the symptoms from common colds, and it can even offer some relief from the fever, cough, congestion and respiratory problems from COVID-19. However, it is important to keep in mind that these findings are speculative – no official research has been conducted on the benefits of echinacea for Coronavirus symptoms.
Whether you are feeling the onset of a minor cold or you’re suffering from the serious health ramifications brought on by COVID-19, one of the best things you can do to improve your immune system is to be proactive.
Stay safe by practicing social distancing and taking all appropriate measures to keep yourself and others safe.
Stay informed on all the latest news, information and pertinent data that can assist you in avoiding potential illnesses.
Stay positive amidst the growing unease running rampant across the globe, and do your best because in the end that’s all you can do.
When you stick to these principles and rely on safe, natural and effective remedies like echinacea, you’ll find that cold & flu season isn’t nearly as daunting as your holiday shopping list.
How much echinacea should I take to prevent a cold?
Depending on the urgency of your need and your tolerance to echinacea, taking several capsules, drops or sprays of as a preventative measure against falling ill can be very effective. Whenever you feel cold- or flu-like symptoms coming on, take your echinacea brand’s recommended dose 2-3 times per day and you might defend yourself from becoming sick.
Additionally, if you know of a virus spreading throughout your office, gym or general area, take daily echinacea doses to stop colds/flus before they even happen. As always, be careful to not take too much or too little – finding the right balanced dosage that works best for you will prevent you from feeling nauseous or wasting product.
Does echinacea kill viruses?
Echinacea does not prevent all viruses from settling in, but it can have certain antiviral and antibacterial benefits. Echinacea has demonstrated antiviral properties against respiratory infections, anti-inflammatory effects in the mouth, throat and stomach, and an affinity for reducing mucus production in the tissues of the airways. More consistent research is required before a definitive answer can be made, but it is safe to say that echinacea certainly strengthens the body’s immune-responses to viral infections and bacteria in the mouth, nose and throat.
Is echinacea good for sinus infections?
Echinacea is a very popular sore throat remedy and anti-congestant, which has led many to try it as a natural treatment for clogged/sore sinuses. Sinus infections are typically brought about by an inability to clear your nasal/throat passages of congestion. Echinacea can provide relief from cold/flu symptoms – such as congestion, sore throats, coughs and inflammation in your sinuses – so it is certainly beneficial as a preventative remedy.
Sinus infections can lead to serious health risks, therefore it is best to consult with your doctor if you suspect you are developing a sinus infection. Nevertheless, to reduce your chances of infection and to relieve your aching sinuses from excess pressure and soreness, echinacea root sprays are a fantastic way to alleviate your airways.
Does echinacea boost your immune system?
Echinacea have been taken for cold and flu symptoms for many decades, but it is also a very effective immunity booster and preventative remedy. Studies have shown that certain combinations of echinacea root tea, sprays, tinctures and capsules and other immunity-strengthening nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D and elderberry syrup can improve your body’s white blood cell counts. By strengthening your body’s ability to ward off viruses, echinacea makes for an excellent everyday supplement for good health & wellness in addition to being a popular remedy for colds & flus.