AuthorTopic: The Benefits and Uses of Echinacea – and How to Grow Your Own!  (Read 340 times)

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By Dr. Joseph Mercola

Contributing writer for Wake Up World
Echinacea: The All-American Flower

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. It is considered to be an economically important group because many of its members are cultivated as food crops.1

Native Americans were the first to use echinacea over 400 years ago. Before the rise of antibiotics, it was used as a general cure for various infections and wounds, such as malaria, scarlet fever and syphilis.2 There are over a dozen varieties of echinacea, and they can grow anywhere from 1.5 to 5 feet in height. Each variety has its own unique color, making the Echinacea family a popular fixture in gardens throughout America.3
Benefits of Using Echinacea

Centuries ago, Native Americans primarily used echinacea to help treat the common cold. It still serves that purpose today, but its uses have expanded to:

Boosting your immune system:The compounds in echinacea may help improve your immune system. In a study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies, echinacea has been shown to help reduce the severity and duration of colds if it is administered right away once symptoms appear. However, if you use echinacea several days after getting a cold, it won’t have much of an effect.4

Fighting against bacteria and viruses: echinacea contains a compound called echinacein, which can help against bacterial and viral infections. According to a study in Pharmaceutical Biology, echinacea exhibited antimicrobial properties and is effective against 15 different pathogenic bacteria and two pathogenic fungi.5

Speeding up wound healing: When applied to a wound, echinacea may help speed up the formation of new skin cells, while helping prevent an infection thanks to its antibacterial properties. According to a study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the compound responsible for echinacea’s wound-healing benefit is echinacoside, which is present in several varieties of the flower.6
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