The “Miracle” Herb
Many people refer to Echinacea as the “Miracle” herb and for good reason as it has incredible protective effects against aging and cancer.1 Echinacea, commonly known as coneflower, is a member of the Asteraceae family, a large plant family composed of 23,600 species. Well-known members of this family include dandelion, cudweed, artichokes, lettuce and sunflower. Discovered and used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years by the Great Plains Indian tribes. Echinacea is technically classified as an herb, several species of the echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its flowers, leaves and roots. Native Americans primarily used Echinacea to help treat the common cold. It still serves that purpose today, but Echinacea is quickly becoming known for multiple uses and benefits.
Echinacea’s Major Health Benefits
This “miracle” herbs most well-known health benefit is it’s immunoenhancing capabilities, or simply its ability to enhance our immune system. A meta-analysis2 performed by the University of Connecticut, published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, looked at 14 different studies and came to the conclusion that: (1) Echinacea cuts the chances of catching a common cold by 58% and (2) Echinacea reduces the duration of the common cold by nearly one-and-a-half days. Furthermore, the medical journal Hindawi has published material suggesting that echinacea stops viral colds. However, the most significant results of echinacea benefits with regards to the immune system were the effects when used on recurring infections.3
Ability to Fight Cancer
Another benefit of echinacea that stands out is its ability to fight cancer. Particularly, brain cancer, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has published research stating that:4 “medicinal value of phytochemicals contained in Echinacea is clearly evident and indicates that these agents, as well as phytochemicals not yet discovered in other herbs, may be valuable tools to combat tumors.” Echinacea has also been shown to combat Leukemia,1 by boosting levels of what are known as “Natural Killer” cells (NK cells),5 this was even more effective when used in combination with other therapies such as melatonin supplementation or immunization.
Other Health Benefits
Echinacea seems to have about an infinite number of health benefits ranging from those already mentioned to alleviating pain and even improving upper respiratory issues. It also may help treat the following conditions: flu, vaginal yeast infections, HIV/Aids, Urinary tract infections (UTIs), herpes, and HPV.
Quality, Once Again, Is Essential
The key when buying an echinacea supplement, once again, is to make sure what you’re getting is of high quality. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports the results of a study that took 11 brands of echinacea and discovered that only four actually contained what was stated on their labels! Approximately 10 percent of these products had no echinacea at all, half of the products were mislabeled as the species of echinacea, and more than half of the preparations didn’t contain the labeled amount of ingredients.6