Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have many painful and debilitating symptoms. Fortunately, they may have a natural means of relief in echinacea, a medicinal plant traditionally used by Native Americans to treat various diseases.
When it comes to treating MS, conventional medicine often focuses on extending the remission period between flare-ups. It also tries to delay the condition from progressing to a more severe state. Given its focus, conventional medicine doesn’t do much to alleviate the symptoms of a disease. And in the case of multiple sclerosis, the symptoms severely affect the patient’s quality of life. Multiple sclerosis patients often look for treatments that complement their primary therapy. In particular, they want herbal supplements that will reduce the effects of the disease on their daily life.
Echinacea enjoys a history of improving specific ailments that share symptoms with multiple sclerosis. Used by the Native Americans and adopted by Western traditional medicine, it got prescribed for both individual issues and diseases. Its effectiveness drew the interest of patients and health experts who believe it might help alleviate some of the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. (Related: CBD oil almost “miraculous” in its ability to prevent pain in MS sufferers.)
The history of echinacea as a medicinal herb
To note, Echinacea is the name of a group of flowering herbs in the daisy family. Among its species, only three are used in herbal supplements.
The herb is native to the eastern half of North America. Humans brought it with them westward over the Rocky Mountains. The herb now grows throughout the continent. Foragers may find the medicinal plant in open wooded areas and prairies. Echinacea sees use as a medicinal herb that supports health. Its rootstalk gets turned into herbal supplements and traditional medicines.
The Plains Indians employed echinacea as an analgesic and antiseptic. Besides disinfecting wounds and reducing the pain of injuries, the medicinal plant also saw use in alleviating or treating insect bites, snake bites, sore throats, and aching teeth. It also treated infectious diseases like measles and mumps.
Other Native American tribes that relied on the medicinal properties of echinacea included the Choctaw, Cheyenne, Dakota, Pawnee and Sioux tribes. They shared their knowledge of the herbal remedy with the settlers, who not only adopted their practice but also spread it to the Old World.
By the end of the 19th century, Europeans also cultivated and used echinacea as a remedy and supplement. In modern times, researchers started investigating the medicinal herb’s healing properties.
How can echinacea help alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
Taking echinacea herbal supplements might be what patients with multiple sclerosis need to make their lives easier. The medicinal herb’s record of alleviating and treating various conditions makes it well-suited for relieving the many symptoms of the nerve disease.
- Protects against infectious diseases: The herbal remedy treats and prevents infections like the common cold and flu. It may reduce the risk of infection for multiple sclerosis patients.
- Increases energy levels: Echinacea may improve chronic fatigue syndrome. By extension, it may benefit patients with multiple sclerosis, who often suffer from low energy levels.
- Decreases dizziness: People take echinacea to alleviate spells of dizziness caused by various sources. Therefore, the herbal supplement may reduce the dizziness often experienced by multiple sclerosis patients.
- Relieves head pain: The analgesic effects of echinacea help reduce the severity of headaches. It may do the same for migraines induced by multiple sclerosis.
- Numbs pain: Likewise, echinacea may numb the general discomfort that disturbs patients with multiple sclerosis. It offers a natural and safer alternative to addictive opioid painkillers.
Before taking echinacea herbal supplements, multiple sclerosis patients must consult with a trusted healthcare practitioner. It isn’t suited for everyone, and there are other natural medicines available.