The Ultimate Guide to Echinacea Tea: Benefits, Side Effects, and Uses
Echinacea tea comes from the daisy family and offers a sweet and potent floral flavor. This herbal tea may help boost immune health and fend off the common cold. Echinacea tea has long been used by North American tribes and indigenous groups as a natural remedy.
Today, research shows that echinacea tea is as healthy as it is delicious. Dive into a world of floral flavor and discover what echinacea tea has to offer. Read on to find out more about its potential health benefits and how you can brew this tea right at home.
What Is Echinacea Tea?
Echinacea is an herb commonly used to make herbal supplements, essential oils, tea, and herbal remedies. The tea is made by infusing the flowers and leaves of the echinacea plant in hot water. The echinacea plant is also commonly known as the American coneflower or the pale purple coneflower.
Echinacea belongs to the Asteraceae family, which also includes daisy plants. The echinacea plant is native to North America including the United States. Native American tribes and the Great Plains Indians used echinacea tea for hundreds of years as a natural remedy to treat ear infections and pain.
There are three main types of echinacea plant used to make tea: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea angustifolia. Echinacea angustifolia boats large leaves and violet-colored flowers while the pallida variety has flowers that are more pale rose in color. The purpurea variety has reddish purple flowers and is revered in Europe as an immune system booster.
Echinacea is packed with polysaccharides and vitamin C that help promote overall health and well-being. Echinacea tea is an herbal tea and naturally caffeine-free so it can be enjoyed all day long.
Echinacea tea offers a tingling feeling that is refreshing and invigorating. Echinacea boasts a strong flavor that is heavy on the floral notes. It has the sharp freshness of pine needles and the soft, round flavor of meadowsweet. This tea is commonly blended with lemongrass and mint to offer a smoother flavor.
Health Benefits of Echinacea Tea
1. Boosts Immunity
Echinacea tea has long been used as a staple in improving the immune system and fending off infections. Echinacea offers antibacterial properties that prevent pathogens from making you sick. Echinacea tea can also soothe a sore throat and minimize aches and pains caused by the common cold and flu.
A meta-analysis in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal investigated the role of echinacea on the immune system. Researchers combed through 14 studies and found that echinacea lowered the risk of common cold by 58 percent. Echinacea consumption also shortened recovery time by one and a half days. Drinking echinacea tea can help prevent illness and get you back on your feet faster even if you do catch a cold.
Echinacea tea also helps to eliminate free radicals that cause oxidative stress and cell damage. This helps to improve overall health by preventing early onset of aging and neurological degeneration.
2. Prevents Infection
Echinacea contains antibacterial powers that can fight off yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Most research shows these health benefits can be attributed to compounds found in echinacea leaves. In particular, caffeic acid and other tea polyphenols demonstrate antiviral activities that prevent infection.
Some research shows that echinacea may boost white blood cell counts, although the research is still ongoing. Other studies including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that polysaccharides in echinacea tea may be effective in the treatment of infections such as HIV. These chemical compounds work by preventing the replication of damaged cells thus preventing infections from taking hold.
3. Relieves Pain
Native Americans first used echinacea to treat pain. Today, the herb is used to treat pain from toothaches to rheumatoid arthritis. Echinacea tea can be used to treat digestive pain including cramps and irritable bowel syndrome.
A randomized, double-blind study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effect of echinacea on pain. Researchers found that people who consumed echinacea used fewer pain medications to treat symptoms of the cold.
4. Improves Mood
The aromatic fragrance of echinacea can help to decrease feelings of sadness and stress. The scent of echinacea triggers the release of dopamine, which is known as a hormone that controls happiness. Echinacea may also decrease levels of cortisol, which is commonly known as the stress hormone.
A study published in Phytotherapy Research investigated the effects of echinacea on anxiety. Researchers found that echinacea significantly suppressed the excitatory synapses. This means that individuals felt fewer emotions of fear and anxiety when taking echinacea extract. While the echinacea was shown to regulate the synapses, it did not inhibit the transmissions entirely.
5. Soothes Respiratory Ailments
Echinacea tea may help treat asthma symptoms and upper respiratory tract infections. Often times, these infections are caused by allergies or the common cold. Echinacea tea improves air flow in the throat and lungs by relaxing inflamed muscles. Echinacea also suppresses histamine, which is the body's overreaction to normal stimuli that results in allergic responses. Research published in 2015 found that echinacea has bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory effects. These properties are similar to the ones found in synthetic drugs used in the treatment of asthma.
Side Effects of Echinacea Tea
Echinacea tea has few side effects when consumed in small amounts. The FDA has not approved medicinal use of echinacea. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using an herbal tea for medicinal purposes. Keep these following things in mind before trying echinacea tea.
If you are allergic to the echinacea plant or other plants in the same family, avoid consuming echinacea tea. This is particularly important for children under the age of 12. Many European organizations including some in Germany warn against the consumption of echinacea for young children. The concern is that children develop more serious allergic reactions to echinacea than adults.
There is currently very little research on the effects of echinacea and pregnancy. Pregnant women and those who are nursing should seek medical advice before consuming echinacea tea or other herbal remedies.
Echinacea boasts a strong aromatic smell that can make some individuals feel nauseous. Chemical compounds in echinacea tea may also irritate the stomach lining and cause stomach cramps, stomach pain, or irritation. Limit consumption of echinacea tea to one to three cups per day to avoid negative side effects.
How to Brew Echinacea Tea
Echinacea tea can be brewed using tea bags or a variety of different plant parts. Echinacea root, leaves, and flowers can all be used to brew this flowery tea. Make sure to always use high quality loose teas or tea bags for the best flavor.
- 1 handful fresh echinacea leaves or 1 tablespoon echinacea root or leaves
- 8-10 oz water
- Sweetener such as honey (OPTIONAL)
1. Heat water on the stove or in a tea kettle kettle until it reaches a rapid boil.
2. Place the dried or fresh echinacea in a tea strainer and set in a tea cup. Add the boiling water.
3. Steep the echinacea for 10-15 minutes. The longer the tea steeps, the stronger the floral flavor will become.
4. Add sweeteners or flavor additives such as lemon, honey, and mint. Enjoy!
Echinacea tea is a floral, sweet beverage that can help satisfy your sweet tooth and improve mood. This western tea has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy and offers health benefits along with its incredible flavor.
When cold season rolls around, it's a great idea to have echinacea tea on hand. The soothing beverage can help warm you up as the temperatures drop and ease the pain of a sore throat. This tea may also help speed up recovery time so you can get back to business.