Thanks to all these benefits, this plant is usually used for the treatment of the flu. In fact it helps to expel mucus because it also has expectorant capacity, to relieve inflammation of the respiratory tract and to reduce cough and cold symptoms. But it does not always work; you have to be careful with possible side effects and contraindications, such as allergic reactions.
Among the beneficial properties of Echinacea draws attention is that it is able to stimulate the immune system as it contains some active ingredients that are considered anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Above all, it acts on the polysaccharides. The essential oil Echinacea is also used as an antibacterial.
This plant has become one of our allies against colds and flu because it makes our body is able to protect itself better against viruses and bacteria and makes once we have cooled symptoms and recovery time are Much lighter than if we had not taken it. According to a study published in The Lancet is able to cause that we take 85% less of colds and the symptoms remain 36 hours less than they last without the plant. This is due to the fact that our body is active in the production of leukocytes, which strengthens our defense system against pathogens.
Although one of the most common uses of this plant is the treatment of colds, it is also useful for treating wounds, burns and dermatitis. And what is it that makes us use it in these cases? Echinacea prevents the progression of infection and favors the formation of cells responsible for wound healing.
In addition, thanks to its antibacterial and antiviral action can also be used in cases of tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, pharyngitis and other respiratory diseases. In fact, this action makes it ideal also to help in the treatment of other infectious diseases such as stys, vaginal infections , malaria, diphtheria, oral infections (such as gingivitis, periodentitis …), ear infections …
Another good use we can give is to combat insect bites.
It can be used in the form of decoction, with compresses, based on lotions, creams, as a tincture or in the form of capsules. The composition of Echinacea is very complex. It should be noted that several active substances and essential oils of more than 20 components have been found in this plant. Among these, I highlight the polyacetylenes, which are able to put into practice this bactericidal and fungicidal effect. Also of great importance are the antioxidants and alcamides it contains.
It is also good to use it in the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases, and to heal the wounds in which it is necessary to initiate a process of regeneration of the tissues, to reduce the risk of infection. Very useful also in cases of herpes, eczema, psoriasis, abscesses, hemorrhoids or boils. What’s more, thanks to its anti-inflammatory action is also used to help in the treatment of cancer.
But as I said before, not everything is so beautiful and wonderful. As for the contraindications of Echinacea must be taken into account certain side effects that can occur in the presence of an allergy to this plant. It should be noted, however, that in general the dry extract has a lower allergenic effect compared to the preparations using the fresh plant. It can lead to a state of anaphylaxis, asthma, rashes … Anyway, before taking it we should make sure we are not allergic to this plant. If you suffer from asthma or have allergies to certain plants such as marigold, daisies, chrysanthemums or ambrosia, it is likely that there may also be an allergy to Echinacea.
According to a study published in the bbc carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the consumption of this plant in children of less than 12 years is not recommended because it has been possible to appreciate a greater case of allergies in these ages.
Even without allergies it is advisable to use it for a maximum of 8 weeks because if used more adverse effects such as nausea, dizziness or digestive disorders may appear.
In addition, people who follow an immune suppression therapy for certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. In these cases it would have an adverse effect on the effect of the drugs used in the treatment. You can find more information on the interaction between Echinacea and certain medications at the University Of Maryland Medical Center.
Nor should it be used in children under one year of age or pregnant or lactating women. In this case it should not be consumed because there are no studies performed in these phases of life and therefore, cannot be assured that this plant is safe for pregnant or lactating women.
And finally to say that caution should also be taken in patients taking paracetamol , as some species of Echinacea may contain toxic compounds at the liver level. Care should also be taken with people taking antineoplastic drugs, corticosteroids and cyclosporine.