What is Echinacea Essential Oil?
Echinacea essential oil is distilled from the echinacea plant which is a type of daisy, found in North America. The plant’s name is derived from the Greek word Ekhinos or Sea Urchin. It grows well in open wooded areas and moist to dry prairie regions. When you go to the woods in late Summer, you will see them blooming. The plant grows up to four feet tall and the flower comes out in Purple, Rose-colored Fleurette’s. The plant is now cultivated for commercial use to extract the essential oil used to treat many medical conditions.
How to Use Echinacea Essential Oil
Most essential oils are distilled in a single process, and sometimes herbal distillation is used in cosmetics. The process of distillation leaves the echinacea oil highly concentrated and may cause side effects if taken orally. However, Echinacea will relieve the itchiness caused by mosquito and other bug bites and is good for chapped dry skin. You can distill the oil yourself, but it is probably better to leave it to the experts and buy a commercial essential oil. So the main uses are:
- A salve for insect bites
- Lip balm
- Echinacea has anti-inflammatory properties, rub the oil on painful joints.
- To treat infections
- To treat the common cold, by drinking Echinacea in tea
- May prevent a cold from developing.
- Is thought to stimulate the immune system
Commercial cultivation of Echinacea began in Germany in the 1930s. Chemists began the task of identifying the active ingredients. At that time the main uses were to treat and prevent colds and influenza.
In North America, the indigenous people used Echinacea Augustifolia as medicine, mainly topically on burns and wounds, and chewing on roots for sore throats and coughs. The early European settlers noticed this and began to develop their own uses.
Essential Oil in Alternative Health
The European Medical Products Committee (HMPC) recommended that Echinacea-containing products are not used to treat children under 12.
So product labels were changed to reflect the new rules. The same warning was issued to pregnant women, especially when in the first trimester
The products vary widely in composition, and the essential oils come in different strengths.
The plant compounds found in Echinacea, are high in antioxidants. This is an excellent reason to take your essential oil every day as we want to avoid oxidative stress that results in chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The antioxidants found in the plant are mainly flavonoids, cichoric acid, and rosmarinic acid found in the fruit and flower of the plant. The plant also contains alkamides that can enhance antioxidant capabilities by renewing antioxidants and allowing them to reach the cells.
Echinacea is widely known for its effect on the immune system, and by combating infections and viruses. Research has shown that taking Echinacea lowers the risk of developing a cold by 58%, and if you already have a cold it will shorten the duration.
Other Benefits / Research
Studies are currently being conducted into blood sugars and test-tube studies have shown that echinacea plants may lower blood sugar levels. This is achieved by suppressing certain enzymes that digest carbohydrates and reducing sugar that enters the bloodstream. More research is required, but so far it looks promising and could be the type of reaction we are looking for in preventing type 2 diabetes from occurring.
The other emerging research is into anxiety, and Echinacea plants have been found to produce compounds that reduce the feelings of anxiety.
They are, rosmarinic acid, alkamides and caffeic acid. Once again further research is required.
It helps to repair the skin, and this benefit was originally recognized by the North American Indigenous people. However, over the years Echinacea has been shown to improve eczema and repair the skin’s thin outer layer. Research is currently trying to lengthen the shelf life of the product to use it commercially.
Echinacea Essential Oil
There is currently no recommended dose for Echinacea, and this causes research results to be highly variable. So when you are purchasing your products buy them from a reputable source.
Current research is being conducted into cancer cell death, Test-tube studies have shown that Echinacea extracts suppress cell growth, and may even kill the cells. But, it is not yet being used on humans as there is some concern that it may interact with conventional treatments for cancer.
Fortunately, Echinacea is well tolerated for short-term use, and it has very little competition in its immune-boosting effect, so it is certainly worth trying out.
How Should I Take Echinacea Essential Oil
- use daily to enhance immune support
- take it 5-10 times a day when symptomatic
- A liquid form is thought to be more effective than capsules.
Using a mister bottle spray tincture of Echinacea Essential Oil directly onto the back of your throat, you may have to do it every half hour for a while until symptoms subside. If you have any doubts about the dosage consult a qualified herbalist. When everyone around you is coughing and sneezing, it is a good time to increase your resistance by taking echinacea.
Carrier oils are made from plants but are best used topically and ingested rather than diffused. The reason is carrier oils have a thick consistency.
So don’t put your Echinacea Essential Oil in a diffuser, as it is not the right sort of oil to diffuse, and you would end up with a smoky room.
Echinacea Essential Oil appears to convey far more benefits than most other herbs and plants, and the research is promising. Also, tincture form or a liquid looks as though it is the best way to take it, or to apply it topically to aching joints, and itchy skin. Because it is full of antioxidants it is already an evidence-based healthcare treatment. If we can avoid oxidative stress that leads to aging and death, we may all stay healthier and younger for longer.