Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, is one of the most popular herbs worldwide.
Echinacea is a group of flowering plants used as a popular herbal remedy. They’re linked to many health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved immunity and lower blood sugar levels.
Today, it’s best known as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold or flu. However, it’s also used to treat pain, inflammation, migraines and other health issues.
Echinacea plants are loaded with plant compounds that function as antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules that help defend your cells against oxidative stress, a state that has been linked to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and many others.
Some of these antioxidants are flavonoids, cichoric acid and rosmarinic acid (3Trusted Source).
These antioxidants appear to be higher in extracts from the fruit and flowers of the plants, compared to other parts, such as the leaves and root.
In addition, Echinacea plants contain compounds called alkamides, which can further enhance antioxidant activity. Alkamides can renew worn-out antioxidants and help antioxidants better reach molecules that are prone to oxidative stress
Echinacea is best known for its beneficial effects on the immune system.
Numerous studies have found that this plant may help your immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help you recover faster from illness.
That’s one reason why Echinacea is often used to prevent or treat the common cold.
In fact, a review of 14 studies found that taking Echinacea may lower the risk of developing colds by more than 50% and shorten the duration of colds by one and a half days.
However, many studies on this topic are poorly designed and show no real benefit. This makes it hard to know if any benefits on colds are from taking echinacea or simply from chance.
In short, while Echinacea may boost immunity, its effects on the common cold are unclear.
Echinacea plants may help lower blood sugar levels.
Echinacea purpurea extract was shown to suppress enzymes that digest carbohydrates. This would reduce the amount of sugar entering your blood if consumed.
Echinacea plants may help treat common skin concerns.
Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties suppressed the growth of Propionibacterium, a common cause of acne.
Skin care products containing echinacea extract were found to improve skin hydration and reduce wrinkles
Echinacea can help reduce excess inflammation
Echinacea compounds helped reduce important inflammatory markers and memory-loss caused by inflammation
Adults with osteoarthritis found that taking a supplement containing echinacea extract significantly reduced inflammation, chronic pain and swelling.
Echinacea has been shown to improve immunity, blood sugar, anti-oxidant, inflammation and skin health. It may even have anti-cancer properties.