Not only are echinacea benefits big news in the natural health community right now, they are BIG business. As reported by the American Botanical Council, “Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States increased by 7.9% in 2013, reaching six billion dollars for the first time!”
This is the most dramatic boost since the late 1990s, and herbal sales have steadily climbed for the past 10 years straight.
And guess which herb has lead the pack? You guessed it, echinacea! Once known as an alternative way to prevent the common cold, now echinacea is quickly becoming known for multiple uses and benefits.
Outpacing the other herbs by a long shot, echinacea (Echinacea spp.) sales rose 95 percent (!!) in 2013, and it’s now a $28 million industry!
Why the surging popularity in this magnificently attractive flower? Because echinacea benefits our health and well-being like few plants on the planet.
What is Echinacea and What Are the Key Echinacea Benefits?
Echinacea flower isolated on a White backgroundEchinacea is a native North American coneflower that was discovered and used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years by the Great Plains Indian tribes. Technically classified as an herb, several species of the Echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its flowers, leaves and roots.
Prior to 1950 and the introduction of antibiotics, Echinacea held an esteemed medicinal status. As the health care industry shifted, antibiotics became the rage, and the now famed herb lost much of its esteem.
Most people don’t realize that the chemicals contained in the root differ significantly from those in the upper part of the plant. If we analyze the roots, we can see that they have high concentrations of volatile oils, while the parts that grow above the soil tend to contain more polysaccharides that are known to trigger immune function.
Many of Echinacea’s chemical constituents are, in fact, powerful immune system stimulators and can provide a significant therapeutic value. A few that you’re probably familiar with are essential oils, flavonoids, inulin, polysaccharides and vitamin C.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also reports that the portion of the plant that grows above ground is the most effective. Interestingly, in Germany, dietary herbs are regulated by the government, and above ground parts of the Echinacea purpurea species are actually approved as natural remedies for urinary tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, colds and slow-healing wounds.
9 Echinacea Benefits
Although there seems to be an infinite number of Echinacea benefits, these nine stand out.
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