Echinacea purpurea is a species of flowering plant that has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries. It is commonly used today in herbal remedies for seasonal challenges, and possibly for good reason. The echinacea plant contains an array of active compounds like phenolic acids, polyacetylenes and caffeic acid, many of which are linked to health benefits including reduced internal inflammation response and immunity support.
Echinacea, as it is commonly called, is high in antioxidants like rosmarinic acid and flavonoids. Antioxidants have numerous roles in our bodies and protect your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that may come from external sources or internal metabolic processes. Antioxidants are needed to help neutralize or eliminate these, which supports the overall immune system.
In addition to antioxidants, echinacea also contains alkamides that support the existing antioxidant network. They can help renew spent antioxidants, transport antioxidants to where they are needed and enhance their activity.
The nutritional properties of echinacea may be why Native Americans used it for everything from health issues and even insect bites. Today, some pharmaceutical companies use it to mobilize certain white blood cells among other things. (1) No wonder this versatile plant seems to find its way into many modern herbal remedies.
Echinacea is most commonly used as an herbal remedy to support the immune system. It is said to boost immunity naturally. A review of studies did indeed find that it helped reduce the risk of seasonal challenges. So there may be something to this home remedy.
Support for Healthy Skin
Echinacea has been found to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Because of this, some beauty products add it to the ingredients as it was found to reduce wrinkles and improve skin hydration in one small study. (2) It was noted that it has a short shelf-life, which may be why some health experts advocate oral consumption instead.
Echinacea as an Anti-inflammatory
Chronic internal inflammation response is a risk factor for many diseases, but may also be a condition caused by possible chronic disease. A pilot study looking to ease inflammation and pain due to bone and joint issues showed that patients who did not respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs did respond to echinacea. In this study, it was found that when used with highly standardized ginger, echinacea did show improvement in pain and swelling.
When other methods fail, herbal remedies offer great promise. And by standing the test of time, echinacea purpurea is definitely one of the herbs to add to your home remedy rescue kit.
1 Manayi A, Vazirian M, Saeidnia S. Echinacea purpurea: Pharmacology, phytochemistry and analysis methods. Pharmacogn Rev. 2015;9(17):63-72. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.156353
2 Yotsawimonwat S, Rattanadechsakul J, Rattanadechsakul P, Okonogi S. Skin improvement and stability of Echinacea purpurea dermatological formulations. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010 Oct;32(5):340-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00559.x. PMID: 20384903.