Cold and flu season is just around the corner, so immune health definitely remains an important topic of discussion. In this article, learn 7 health benefits of echinacea, plus 10 quick remedies for a sore throat. As always, remember that good nutrition, exercise, staying hydrated, managing stress, and fostering good sleep are all part of a good plan to support your strongest immune health.
7 health benefits of echinacea
There’s more to this herb than meets the eye
Echinacea isn’t just a pretty purple flower. It has some impressive healing properties. You may already know it helps the common cold—more on that below—but there are a lot of other health benefits of echinacea.
1. Shortens the common cold
A lot of people turn to echinacea at the start of a cold and with good reason. Research shows that echinacea possesses chemicals that may help increase the number of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells support your body while you fight off infections. Echinacea is a great immune-boosting supplement to keep on hand when you start to feel under the weather.
2. Reduces inflammation
Chronic inflammation may lead to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. In one small study, participants who were non-responsive to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs experienced reduced pain and anti-inflammatory results using a ginger and echinacea extract.
3. Helps to reduce respiratory illness after travel
When we fly, we encounter countless people and their microbes. However, echinacea may act as a defense against the germs we encounter when we travel. In one study, participants were asked to take either echinacea or placebo tablets before and during air travel. The echinacea group reported that they had lower respiratory symptoms compared to the placebo group.
4. Boosts antioxidants
When antioxidants are introduced to the body, they can delay or stop the damage from oxidative stress. Certain species of echinacea contain high levels of cichoric acid, which is a powerful antioxidant. By taking echinacea, the boost in free-radical fighting antioxidants may decrease the damage caused by oxidative stress.
5. Protects against cancer
In one study, researchers discovered the cichoric acid from Echinacea purpurea extract decreased colon cancer cell activity and eliminated some cancer cells. In another study, echinacea extract caused the death of lung cancer cells. Researchers need to conduct more research on these effects.
6. Reduces the need for antibiotics
Bacterial infections linked to ear infections, pneumonia, and sinus infections may require antibiotics. However, if antibiotics are used too frequently, it can lead to antimicrobial resistance and wipe out the “good” bacteria in our bodies. In a search to discover alternative treatments, scientists administered echinacea or vitamin C to a group of children. The children given echinacea were less likely to have respiratory illnesses that could develop into bacterial infections thus reducing the need for antibiotics.
7. Relieves sore throats
Although sore throats are often thought to be associated with strep throat, most are caused by viral infections. With a virus, you must wait for it to run its course and find symptom relief in the meantime. As a natural treatment option, echinacea has proven to be effective in relieving the symptoms of sore throats.
10 quick remedies for a sore throat
Use your pantry staples!
No one wants to fall prey to a sore throat! Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply go to your fridge or pantry to find relief? Well, you can! Many natural sore throat remedies are staples you probably have on hand.
1. Saltwater gargle
Gargling with saltwater is a tried-and-true method to relieve sore throat pain. Gargle with this mixture every three hours to achieve the best results. As an added benefit, gargling with saltwater can help flush out the virus causing your sore throat.
2. Warm and cold fluids
Have something to drink. Cold drinks, ice cubes, and popsicles reduce pain by lowering the temperature of the throat’s nerve endings. When you consume a warm drink, on the other hand, salivation increases. This increases lubrication and makes your throat feel better.
Your body is using its energy to fight off an infection or irritation. If you have a sore throat and want to rest, do so in an elevated position. Try propping yourself up with pillows or using a reclining chair.
Honey has been valued for centuries for its antibacterial properties. Make a soothing drink by stirring 2 Tbsp (30 mL) honey into a cup of tea or warm water. Remember, though, that honey is not to be given to infants under one year of age.
5. Hot sauce
Capsaicin, which is found in peppers used to make hot sauce, can help reduce pain by fighting the inflammation of a sore throat. Get sore throat relief from hot sauce by mixing a few drops of it in warm water and gargling.
Lemon has vitamin C, which is thought to be effective in fighting infections. Lemon water can help reduce inflammation, and it can help break up the mucus that might be irritating your throat.
7. Chicken soup
Like a warm drink, chicken soup can break up the mucus in your throat to help ease your discomfort. It will also help to keep you hydrated. Chicken soup can be a good source of nutrients too, which is helpful when you’re not feeling well.
Many herbal teas offer anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help in soothing and healing a sore throat. There are a number that you can choose from to help reduce sore throat irritation, such as peppermint or chamomile.
9. Humidity and steam
Dry air can cause congestion, dry skin, a dry nose, itchy eyes, and throat irritation. One way to ease and help lubricate your sore throat is to have a warm shower. You can add moisture to the air in your home by using a vaporizer or humidifier.
Studies show that zinc lozenges can help you kick a cold faster, including shortening the severity and duration of symptoms like sore throat. For best results, take zinc supplements within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms.
BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.
Copyright 2022 by Alive Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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