Echinacea belongs to the genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family called Asteraceae. The nine species that belong to this genus are commonly called purple coneflowers. Echinacea is found to grow most commonly in prairies and the open wooded areas of Eastern, Central, and North America. The parts of the plant above the ground and the roots are used to extract juices, which can be used to make special preparations or prepare tea and other beverages.
Echinacea contains many chemicals that play a prominent role in its therapeutic effects. These include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids. The chemicals contained in the root and upper parts of the plant are different. For instance, the roots contain a high concentration of volatile oils, while the upper parts of the plant contain more polysaccharides than any other chemicals.
The three species of echinacea that are commonly used for medicinal purposes are echinacea angustifolia, echinacea pallida, and echinacea purpurea. Echinacea angustifolia and purpurea seem to be more widely studied than echinacea pallida. Echinacea pallida differs from the echinacea angustifolia and purpurea in that it does not have alkylamide content. Most echinacea preparations contain one, two, or even all three of these species.
Different products use different parts of the echinacea plant. This is why the effectiveness of echinacea may differ from one product to another when a range of echinacea products are considered. Echinacea products are available in extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules, and ointments. They are also available in combination with other immune boosting herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
The most greatest benefit of echinacea is ots ability to fight the common cold. Echinacea has proven to be effective against upper respiratory tract infections. Echinacea purpurea’s fresh-pressed juice is actively used for treating colds in children, while a mixture of Echinacea angustifolia root and Echinacea purpurea root and herb are used in adults. It has been found that roots of echinacea angustifolia, pallida, and purpurea boost the immune system.
Several trials have made it clear that although Echinacea itself does not cure diseases, it helps the body resist and fight illnesses, thus making it stronger and more resistant. People who take this plant’s preparations tend to fall ill less often, experience milder symptoms, and recover sooner than an average person who is affected in a similar manner.
Echinacea also enhances the activity of the immune system and has severe antibiotic effects on the body. Benefits of echinacea are also seen in the case of pain relief. Professional herbalists prescribe echinacea for urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, ear infections, sinusitis, hay fever, athlete’s foot, and recuperation of slow healing wounds.
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