Echinacea, also known as coneflower, is abundantly found in the central and eastern part of North America and Canada. With various therapeutic properties that have been harnessed since centuries, the herbal supplements of echinacea are gaining a lot of importance in today’s times. The stem, root, flower, and leaves are used to make teas, liquid extracts, and supplements. One of the easiest ways of benefiting from echinacea is by consuming it as a tea. It has various health benefits and some side effects which are discussed below.
Being rich in vitamins and minerals, this tea also has flavonoids, glycoproteins, and volatile oils. It provides a wide spectrum of benefits, which are listed below.
1. Prevents And Fights Common Cold
Studies show that having a cup of echinacea tea as soon as the cold weather hits can help you keep common cold at bay. It reduces the chances of getting cold by 45–58%. If you are already affected by cold, drinking this tea can reduce the duration of infection to 1.5 days, as against 4 days which is the normal duration. This is because echinacea has the properties to enhance the number of white blood cells in the body, which fight infections.
2. Treats Ear Infection
Inner ear infections are generally caused due to bacterial and viral build-up. Allergies and common cold increase the chances of ear infection. Consuming 3 cups of echinacea tea every day has shown effective results in treating ear infections. However, if the pain doesn’t subside in 4 days, it is recommended you consult a doctor.
3. Boosts Immune System
A strong immune system plays a vital role in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Echinacea tea helps strengthen the immune system by increasing the number of T-cells in the body. T-cells (T-lymphocytes) hunt down and destroy the cells that are infected. The tea also helps in the production of antibodies, which keep infections at bay. It channels the migration of leukocytes (cells fighting foreign substances in the body) to the area of infection, speeding up the recovery process.
4. Relieves Pain And Inflammation
The pain-alleviating properties of echinacea tea have been known for centuries. Consuming few cups of tea heals wounds and reduces pain significantly. It relieves a headache, toothache, stomach ache, tonsillitis and pain due to gonorrhea, measles, and herpes.
Regular consumption of echinacea tea doesn’t just reduce but in most cases also reverses inflammation. Patients with chronic inflammatory disorder like rheumatoid arthritis have found their pains diminishing gradually. However, it is best to take an advice from your doctor before you begin your tea dosages.
Side Effects Of Echinacea Tea
While some studies show the benefits of echinacea tea, some talk about the possible side effects it can cause. Mentioned below are some of them.
1. Triggers Allergic Reactions
People allergic to any flower of the daisy family, like marigold, sunflower, chrysanthemums, or ragweed could develop allergic reactions to echinacea. Mild skin rashes, followed by severe difficulty in breathing (anaphylaxis) are the side effects. It is suggested to seek a medical advice as soon as the breathing abnormalities are evident.
2. Overdose Weakens The Immune System
Research indicates that echinacea tea shouldn’t be consumed for more than 10 days, continuously. After this, the body wouldn’t be able to utilize the goodness of the tea efficiently or would store its constituents. An overdose results in the weakening of immune system since the system is not allowed to function on its own. This, in turn, might lead to nausea, gastrointestinal irritation, and dizziness.
3. Worsens Autoimmune Disorders
Echinacea tea acts an immunity-stimulant, which has adverse effects on people who are on immunosuppressants after undergoing organ transplantation. Immunosuppressants are also prescribed for patients with autoimmune disorders like HIV, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and tuberculosis.
4. Interacts With Other Drugs
In some cases, echinacea is known to interact with the antipsychotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and drugs for hypertension. They either induce side effects like a headache, dizziness, discomfort, and drowsiness or reduce the effectiveness of drugs. The tea also seems to interfere with the pace at which caffeine is broken down in the body, leading to jitteriness and rapid heart rate.
Consumption of echinacea tea is not suggested during pregnancy and breastfeeding or for children below age 12. However, there is insufficient evidence on the possible side effects in these contexts.
It is always good to discuss with your doctor on the usage and dosage of echinacea if you have any pre-existing health issues.