In addition to adding flavor to a recipe, herbs can provide nutrients and serve medicinal purposes. Echinacea has become quite well-known in recent years as an herb that can shorten the length of a common cold. In addition to helping people with colds, there are several other echinacea benefits that I will outline below.
Once you discover how helpful echinacea is, you might even consider growing your own so you can have it on hand whenever the need arises.
- Echinacea is a plant that resembles a daisy and has lavender petals with a brown center.
- It’s native to North America and has a rich history dating back hundreds of years. Great Plains native American tribes used it as a herbal remedy for a variety of ailments.
- The echinacea plant can grow up to 4 feet in height.
- It can flourish in a variety of soil conditions, ranging from moist to dry.
7 echinacea benefits
- Strengthens the immune system. Echinacea has been shown to reduce the chances of catching the common cold as well as shorten the duration of the common cold. It has also demonstrated the ability to weaken and reduce a cold’s symptoms. To get the best results, take echinacea when you first experience the cold symptoms. This is possibly the most well-known of the echinacea benefits.
- Fights infections. Over its long history, echinacea has been used to naturally treat a variety of infections including yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and bloodstream infections.
- Eases pain. Native American tribes have also used echinacea to fight pain (headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, pain from snake bites, etc.)
- Acts as a natural laxative. Drinking echinacea tea can ease mild constipation. Drinking a cup a day while you’re experiencing constipation can help reduce the symptoms.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties. Echinacea appears to activate the chemicals in the human body that reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of many ailments, so keeping it under control with natural methods can be very helpful.
- Can improve skin problems. Native American tribes have used echinacea to treat eczema, psoriasis, and inflammatory skin conditions.
- Can help improve mental health. Some research has found that echinacea can help with anxiety and depression.
How to use echinacea
You can drink echinacea as a tea, decoction or a pill. You can buy echinacea pills over-the-counter in the vitamin / supplement section in a pharmacy or health food store.
To drink as a tea: You can buy echinacea tea bags and drink it that way, but if you have the fresh plant, take 1 or 2 petals and/or leaves and steep in boiling water for 15-20 minutes.
To drink as a decoction: Take 2 teaspoons of the dried root per cup of water and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
How to grow your own echinacea
In one of our earlier posts about growing herbs, we talked about starting an indoor herbal garden. For growing echinacea, however, you may need a little more room because they can grow up to 4 feet in height.
Below are some facts about growing your own echinacea.
- Echinacea blooms in the summertime through to the fall and prefers full sunlight although it can survive in light shade.
- Grows best in zones 3-9
- Echinacea is one of those easy-to-grow herbs.
- It attracts bees, birds, and butterflies
- You can grow it from seeds, plants or cuttings
For more detailed information on how to plant and grow echinacea as well as possible pests and disease, click here to learn more.
Echinacea side effects and cautions
Side effects are rare, but some of the ones that have been reported include: nausea, vomiting, and fever. Those with autoimmune disease and diabetes should use echinacea with caution and should speak with their medical professional prior to taking it. Same with pregnant women. Additionally, echinacea might cause an allergic reaction. Click here to read more about possible side effects.
What has been your experience with echinacea? A couple of years ago, I started taking a little whenever I’d feel a cold coming on and I haven’t had a full blown cold in those 2 years. This is what made me want to share the many echinacea benefits with you. Let us know if you’ve had any experience with echinacea in the comments below.
Please be aware: We are not medical professionals and this post is not intended to be professional medical advice. The information on this post and website are intended for informational purposes only. If you have any health concerns, please see a medical professional.