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Understanding the effects of purple coneflower (Echinacea) on the immune system


Researchers from the University of Minnesota have found that purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) can boost a person’s immune function. In their report, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the team looked at the effects of purple coneflower root extract on murine spleen cells stimulated with concanavalin A.

Purple coneflower root extract improves immunity

In their report, the team harvested spleen cells from wild-type mice that were between six and 12 weeks of age. The harvested cells were then activated with concanavalin A to determine cell survival; however, some cells were pre-treated with purple coneflower root extract prior to concanavalin A activation.

The findings revealed that purple coneflower root extract can improve anti-viral immune response. It does this by increasing tumor necrosis factor (TNF) producing in response to infections. In addition, purple coneflower root extract improved TNF production in a dose-dependent manner, which suggests immunomodulatory activity.

Based on their findings, the team hopes that further studies on the immunity-boosting properties of purple coneflower would explore how the herbal remedy could be integrated into conventional therapies, especially on those designed to improve immune cell functions. (Related: Grow the ultimate survival garden by investing in these healing herbs that function as natural medicine.)

More health benefits of purple coneflower

Purple coneflower is an herbaceous plant native to the Midwest and the East Coast. It can grow up to four feet tall and produce pinkish-purple flowers that bloom in early summer through mid-fall.

The plant is used in traditional medicine. Native Americans consider purple coneflower an important medicinal plant, and different tribes use it to treat various ailments. In particular, it is used as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory, as well as a treatment for toothaches, coughs, colds and sore throats.

Purple coneflower is also used to treat various poisons, including snakebites, and parts of the plant are used to dress wounds and treat infections. It’s even used to soothe gastrointestinal troubles in men and horses – benefits that early settlers picked up on rather quickly.

Modern medicine has also revealed other potential health benefits from purple coneflower. An earlier study by researchers from Hungkuang University in Taiwan noted that flower extracts from purple coneflower exhibited potent antioxidant activity and inhibited key enzymes linked to Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The researchers also noted that purple coneflower extract could be a suitable carbohydrate suppressant, which reduces the risk for postprandial hyperglycemia and hypertension.

Purple coneflower is also beneficial in treating chronic inflammation, thanks to chicoric acid – a natural phenol present in echinacea and chicory plants. A recent study published in The FASEB Journal concluded that chicoric acid exhibited anti-inflammatory effects in the central nervous system, which helped prevent neuron damage and cognitive deficits.

Research has also shown how purple coneflower can help improve a person’s mental health. In a study in Phytotherapy Research, scientists explored the anti-anxiety properties of the plant. For their report, scientists from the Institute of Experimental Medicine and the University of Szeged in Hungary used treated rats with purple coneflower preparation, then subjected these to three anxiety tests.

The scientists noted that purple coneflower indeed exhibited anti-anxiety properties; however, it does so at a lower dose than that of prescription drugs, making it a promising alternative therapy for anxiety.

It’s worth noting, however, that while purple coneflower is safe and well-tolerated for short-term use, those with allergies to pollen and other flowers should consult their healthcare provider before use. In addition, those with autoimmune disorders, as well as those taking immunosuppressive drugs, should likewise consult their healthcare providers before starting with purple coneflower.

Learn more about other herbal treatments at Herbs.news.

Sources include:

Science.news

LiebertPub.com 1

Plants.SC.eGov.USDA.gov[PDF]

Healthline.com

LiebertPub.com 2

FASEB.OnlineLibrary.Wiley.com

OnlineLibrary.Wiley.com

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