Echinacea extracts may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and even cause cancer cell death, according to experiments conducted in test tubes (25, 26).
An extract of Echinacea purpurea and chicoric acid, which is naturally present in echinacea plants, was demonstrated in one test-tube investigation to cause cancer cell death (25).
In another experiment, echinacea plant extracts (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida) destroyed colon and pancreatic cancer cells in test tubes by inducing apoptosis, or regulated cell death (26).
It is thought that the immune-stimulating components of echinacea cause this effect (27).
Conventional cancer medicines like doxorubicin were once thought to interact with echinacea, but more recent investigations have found no evidence of this (28, 29).
Echinacea has been demonstrated to enhance skin health, blood sugar control, anxiety, and immunity. It might even possess anti-cancer qualities. However, there hasn’t been much human-based study on these advantages.
What affects the body does echinacea have?
One of the most widely used herbs in America right now is echinacea. Native Americans gave the medicinal herb echinacea its name because of the prickly scales that mimic the enraged hedgehog’s spines on its enormous conical seed head (echinos is Greek for hedgehog).
Native Americans may have used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat wounds and illnesses as well as a general “cure-all,” according to archaeologists who have discovered evidence of this. Echinacea has been used historically to treat blood poisoning, diphtheria, syphilis, malaria, and scarlet fever. Although this herb was widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries, its use started to diminish in the US once antibiotics were developed. In Germany, echinacea preparations gained popularity during the course of the 20th century. In actuality, Germany has been the site of the majority of echinacea scientific research.
Today, individuals take echinacea to lessen the severity of the common cold and flu and to lessen symptoms including fever, coughing, and sore throats (pharyngitis). Echinacea is another plant that many herbalists advise taking to help the body fight infections and strengthen the immune system.
Echinacea may include active ingredients that improve immunological function, ease pain, lessen inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral, and antioxidant effects, according to a number of laboratory and animal studies. Because of this, qualified herbalists may suggest echinacea as a treatment for slow-healing wounds, ear infections, athlete’s foot, sinusitis, vaginal yeast (Candida) infections, ear infections, otitis media, hay fever, and slow-healing wounds. Echinacea and cichoric acid may help suppress colon cancers, according to preliminary laboratory studies. According to one study, using echinacea extract before contracting the herpes simplex virus (HSVI) may have an antiviral effect on the recurrence of cold sores.
It is debatable if echinacea aids in the prevention or treatment of the common cold. According to certain research, the herb can hasten your recovery. Others claim that echinacea has no effect at all on a cold. According to several clinical studies, persons who take echinacea as soon as they start to feel unwell have milder colds and experience less symptoms than those who do not. In a study of 95 patients who had fever, runny nose, scratchy throat, and other early signs of the flu and cold, it was discovered that those who drank many cups of echinacea tea daily for five days felt well more quickly than those who drank tea without the herb.
Echinacea decreased cold risk by 58 percent and cold duration by 1 to 4 days, according to a study of 14 clinical trials. Some experts, however, contest these results, arguing the research had a number of flaws. Clinical trials have used a variety of echinacea formulations. It’s crucial to get a high-quality echinacea supplement and to start taking it as soon as a cold starts, numerous times each day for the first few days. For advice, consult your health care practitioner.
Is it safe to consume echinacea daily?
A Cochrane Library systematic review was released by researchers in 2006. A systematic review is when a team of professionals compiles all the information available on a specific topic. Then they examine it to determine whether there is any supporting evidence. 13 trials were examined in the review by the researchers. The studies investigated whether echinacea could be used to treat and prevent the common cold.
Some studies suggested that it might shorten the duration of colds and ease symptoms. Others, though, proved that it was ineffective.
According to the review, there is no proof that echinacea can shield you from the common cold. More study of how echinacea might combat infections was advised. to find out more about its side effects, as well.
In 2010, a study examined how successfully echinacea root treated persons who were already congested. It was discovered that ingesting echinacea had no effect on how long colds lasted.
Over 700 participants were the subject of a study in 2012 by researchers. They discovered that daily echinacea users for at least 4 months saw few adverse effects and fewer colds.
In 2014, researchers conducted a further Cochrane review. They discovered that the echinacea products sold on the market vary greatly.
Additionally, they discovered that 10 to 20 out of every 100 persons may be less likely to have a cold as a result of certain varieties (10 percent to 20 percent ).
The researchers believed that this was a little effect and that there was conflicting data to back it up. This is so because various echinacea preparations were employed in the experiments.
What advantages come from taking echinacea regularly?
Echinacea may boost your immune system, enabling you to combat viral or bacterial colds and flu. According to certain studies, the echinacea plant includes compounds that aid in the production of white blood cells by your body. These white blood cells function as part of your immune system to combat infection when your upper respiratory tract (nose, mouth, and throat) becomes infected.
But a 2014 research that examined two dozen additional studies discovered only flimsy proof that echinacea supplements actually work to treat colds. Echinacea may help treat colds, but it has not been demonstrated to hasten the onset of a cold.
Several different infections may be repelled by echinacea. According to some research, echinacea helps treat ear infections, urinary tract infections, and slow-healing cuts and wounds. Even though echinacea can occasionally assist with small illnesses, if the issue persists, you should visit a doctor.
Why echinacea shouldn’t be taken?
Consult your doctor before using echinacea if you regularly take other medications. Additionally, if you smoke, use illegal substances, drink alcohol or caffeine-containing beverages, you should disclose this to your doctor. These might impact how echinacea functions.
If you have an autoimmune ailment (like lupus), an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, echinacea may not be beneficial to you (AIDS). Before beginning to use echinacea, you should discuss with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.
Echinacea allergy risk may be increased if you have a history of allergies to daisies, ragweed, marigolds, chrysanthemums, or other related plants.
Positive effect on the immune System
Numerous studies have revealed that this plant may support your immune system’s ability to fight viruses and infections, which may speed up your recovery from illness (8, 9, 10).
Echinacea is frequently used to either prevent or treat the common cold because of this.
In fact, a review of 14 studies revealed that echinacea supplementation may reduce the likelihood of getting a cold by more than 50% and shorten its duration by 1.5 days (11).
Numerous research on the subject, nevertheless, have a weak design and offer little genuine value. Due to this, it can be difficult to determine if echinacea use has any beneficial effects on colds vs random events (12).
In conclusion, echinacea may increase immunity, but it is unknown how it may affect the common cold.
May lower blood sugar levels
This includes heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a number of other chronic illnesses.
Research in test tubes suggests that echinacea plants may aid in lowering blood sugar levels.
An Echinacea purpurea extract was demonstrated in a test-tube investigation to inhibit enzymes that break down carbs. If you ate this, it would lower the quantity of sugar that entered your blood (13).
By activating the PPAR-y receptor, a popular target of diabetic medications, echinacea extracts were found to increase cells’ sensitivity to the effects of insulin in additional test-tube tests (14, 15).
A risk factor for insulin resistance, excess blood fat is eliminated by this specific receptor. As a result, cells respond to insulin and sugar more quickly (16).
Research on how echinacea affects blood sugar in humans is still inadequate.
May reduce feelings of anxiety
Anxiety is a common problem that affects close to one in five American adults (17).
According to research, echinacea plants contain substances that may help people feel less anxious. Alkamides, rosmarinic acid, and caffeic acid are a few of these (18).
Three out of five echinacea samples reduced anxiety in a mouse research. In addition, unlike higher doses of conventional treatments, they did not cause the mice to become less active (18).
Another study discovered that Echinacea angustifolia extract significantly decreased anxiety in rats and people (19).
However, there are currently very few studies on echinacea and anxiety. Before echinacea products are suggested as a potential treatment, more research is required.
Your body naturally promotes healing and defends itself by inducing inflammation.
Inflammation can occasionally become out of control and persist longer than intended and necessary. This could increase your risk of developing chronic illnesses and other health issues.
Echinacea chemicals reduced significant inflammatory markers and inflammation-related memory loss in a mouse research (20).
Adults with osteoarthritis who took a supplement containing echinacea extract for 30 days noticed a significant decrease in swelling, chronic pain, and inflammation.
Interestingly, echinacea extract-containing supplements were effective for these adults even though they did not respond well to traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS) (21).
May help treat skin concerns
In a test-tube experiment, researchers discovered that the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics of echinacea inhibited the growth of Propionibacterium, a common acne-causing bacteria (22).
Another study on 10 healthy adults aged 25 to 40 found that using skin care products with echinacea extract increased skin moisture and decreased wrinkles (23).
Similar to this, it has been demonstrated that a cream containing Echinacea purpurea extract can lessen eczema symptoms and aid in repairing the skin’s thin, protective outer layer (24).
Echinacea extract doesn’t seem to have a long shelf life, making it challenging to use in industrial skin care products.
Can echinacea be taken with vitamin D?
Vitamin D3 and echinacea did not interact in any way. This does not imply that there are no interactions, though. Always get advice from your doctor.
Echinacea and kidney health
If you have renal illness, stay away from herbal medications because they can increase blood pressure.
Some, like St. John’s Wort (for poor mood), may interfere with renal disease medications.
Before using some, such as the cold and flu treatment echinacea, consult with your doctor or pharmacist because they may have an adverse effect on kidney function.
Another issue is that the amount of the active ingredient in herbal remedies can vary significantly across brands (and even between batches of the same brand). This makes it challenging to anticipate how potent a dose will be.
Does echinacea actually work?
Mixed findings have emerged from studies. Echinacea extracts do appear to affect the immune system, your body’s line of protection against pathogens. According to research, it boosts the quantity of white blood cells, which fight illnesses. The herbal medicine had a very little advantage in avoiding colds, according to an analysis of more than a dozen research that was published in 2014.
However, neither children nor adults who took echinacea for a cold reported any relief from it in two trials supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
However, because different studies examine different echinacea varieties and potencies as well as various plant or root portions, it might be challenging to compare the findings of several studies. There’s a chance that certain variations are superior to others. Additionally, it’s probable that the herbal cure will work against some but not all of the more than 200 cold-causing viruses.
Caffeine interacts with ECHINACEA
The rate at which the body breaks down caffeine may be slowed by echinacea. When used with coffee, echinacea may raise blood levels of the stimulant and raise the possibility of adverse effects such jitteriness, headaches, and rapid heartbeat.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with ECHINACEA
The liver modifies and breaks down several drugs. The rate at which the liver breaks down these drugs may change if echinacea is used. The results and side effects of certain drugs may alter as a result.
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with ECHINACEA
The immune system’s activity can be boosted by echinacea. Some drugs, such those prescribed after a transplant, reduce the immune system’s function. Echinacea may lessen the effects of several drugs if taken concurrently.
Etoposide (VePesid) interacts with ECHINACEA
Echinacea may slow down the body’s metabolism of etoposide. When used with etoposide, echinacea may make etoposide’s side effects worse.
Midazolam (Versed) interacts with ECHINACEA
The body’s ability to break down midazolam appears to be impacted by echinacea. Echinacea may lessen or intensify the negative effects of midazolam when taken together.
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with ECHINACEA
The drug warfarin is used to prevent blood clots. Echinacea may accelerate the breakdown of warfarin and lessen its effectiveness. This could make you more likely to get a clot. Make sure to routinely get your blood tested. Your warfarin dosage may need to be adjusted.
Darunavir (Prezista) interacts with ECHINACEA
Darunavir’s rate of metabolism may be impacted by echinacea. Echinacea may lessen the effects of darunavir or increase the risk of negative effects when taken with it. However, it’s not obvious if this warrants much alarm.
Docetaxel (Taxotere) interacts with ECHINACEA
The rate at which the body breaks down docetaxel may be impacted by echinacea. Echinacea supplementation may lessen the effects of docetaxel or raise the risk of side effects. However, it’s not obvious if this warrants much alarm.
Etravirine (Intelence) interacts with ECHINACEA
The rate at which the body breaks down etravirine may be impacted by echinacea. Echinacea may lessen the effects of etravirine or enhance its negative effects when taken alongside it. However, it’s not obvious if this warrants much alarm.
Lopinavir / Ritonavir (Kaletra) interacts with ECHINACEA
Echinacea may slow down the body’s metabolism of lopinavir and ritonavir. Echinacea can either boost or diminish the effects of lopinavir/ritonavir, depending on whether it is taken alone or in conjunction with it. However, it’s not obvious if this warrants much alarm.