Echinacea is a Native American medicinal plant that has been used for over 400 years for its medicinal properties on infections and wounds. The word echinos is Greek for hedgehog and so the herb was named for its resemblance to this animal with a large conical seed head with spines that resembles the spines on the body of the hedgehog. History has evidence of the herb being used for a large variety of ailments, syphilis, malaria, scarlet fever, diphtheria, blood poisoning and more. It was commonly used in the 18th and 19th centuries but with the arrival of antibiotics its use went into decline. However today more people want an alternative to antibiotics and are turning back to herbal treatments such as using Echinacea for treating yeast infections, as well to help boost the immune system and fight other body infections.
Uses for the herb Echinacea
Just some of the ailments Echinacea is used for include;
- Cold and flu remedy
- Sore throat
- Pain relief
- Reduce swelling
- Urinary tract infections
- Candida infections
- Ear infections
- Athlete’s foot
- Hay fever
- Slow healing wounds
Different species and parts of the plant
There are different chemicals in the plant in different parts and different species that can be used for medicinal purposes. Roots have a high concentration of volatile oils, used in the treatment of yeast infections, whereas the parts above ground have more polysaccharides that are good for the immune system. There are three particular species of Echinacea that are used for medical reasons, the Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida. Remedies may have one or a combination of these different species, and may use one or different parts of them. For that reason the effectiveness of echinacea for treating yeast infections can vary from one brand to the next.
Echinacea can come in various forms including juice, tablet and tea. In a study looking at 11 brands of echinacea products, only 4 actually contained what they claimed on the label. 10% had none of the herb at all, half were incorrect about the species of plant being used and over half did not have the amount of active ingredients they claimed. Therefore when looking for echinacea for treating yeast infections look for trusted brands that offer standardized extracts or guaranteed potency.
Often the argument for using herbal and natural treatment is that you avoid the side effects and allergic reactions that medicated treatments come with, however care does need to be taken with herbal remedies too. It is important to visit someone with real knowledge and use their advice. People should not use Echinacea for treating yeast infections if;
- they have an autoimmune disease
- undergoing organ transplant surgery
- are allergic to plants in the daisy family
- people with severe allergies and or asthma
- if pregnant or breastfeeding seek medical advice
- on immunosuppressive medication
Side effects can include;
- stomach pain
- sore throat
- dry mouth
- unpleasant taste in the mouth
- joint and muscle aches
- tongue numbness
It also reacts with certain medications so make sure you reveal any medications and supplements that you are taking to the alternative practitioner and check with your doctor.
Using echinacea for treating yeast infections
Studies on animals have found that using echinacea for treating yeast infections is effective. White blood cells were stimulated into consuming the yeast cells, a process that is called phagacytosis. In a German study, where the herb is used and regulated, women suffering from recurring vaginal yeast infections were given either an anti-fungal medication or the anti-fungal and echinacea extract. Out of those that received just the anti-fungal treatment, 60% still suffered a recurrence of infection. But out of those that received the anti-fungal treatment and the echinacea extract only 10% suffered from recurrence.