Biological Name: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia
Other Names: Narrow-leaved purple coneflower, Sampson root, Black Sampson, Red sunflower, Echinacea
Parts Used: roots
Echinacea supports the immune system. Several constituents in echinacea team together to increase the production and activity of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and macrophages. Echinacea also increases reduction of interferon, an important part of the body’s response to viral infections such as colds and flu.
Echinacea was used by American Indians for a variety of conditions, including venomous bites and other external wounds. It was introduced into US. medical practice in 1887 and was touted for use in conditions ranging from colds to syphilis. Modern research started in the 1930s in Germany.
Traditionally echinacea has been used for blood poisoning, fevers, carbuncles, acne, eczema, boils, peritonitis, syphilis conditions, bites and stings of poisonous insects or snakes, erysipelas, gangrenous conditions, diphtheria, tonsillitis, sores, infections and wounds.
Alterative, antiseptic, tonic, depurative, maturating, febrifuge
Echinacea is used for:
Canker sores (mouth ulcers)
Common cold/sore throat
Gingivitis (periodontal disease)
Recurrent ear infection
Echinacea had been used to treat infections. There are some anecdotal reports of using echinacea for AIDS, more research need to be done in that area before any conclusions can be reached.
Infections: Echinacea enhances the body’s immune system. It has been shown effective for treating conditions such as influenza, colds, upper respiratory tract infections, urogenital infections, and other infectious conditions.
Common Cold: Echinacea is very popular for the treatment of common cold. Echinacea has been found effective in getting people back to health quickly as well as delaying getting other infections. Patients with weakened immune system have been found to be the most benefited from this herb.
Snake Bite: Echinacea had been used by American Indians as a remedy for snakebites. Echinacea is believed to inhibit hyaluronidase, a component of snake venom.
Wound Healing: Echinacea was found effective for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions such as abscesses, foliculitis, wounds of all kinds, eczema, burns, herpes, and varicose ulcers of the leg.
Arthritis: Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory activity helps alleviate rheumatoid arthritis.
Cancer: Echinacea is used to offset the depression of white cells during radiation and chemotherapy for cancer patients. Many clinical tests have shown that echinacea stabilized the white blood cells in patients undergoing cancer treatment, whereas, the patients not receiving echinacea had shown a continued decline in the white blood cells.
Echinacea is a wildflower native to North America. While echinacea continues to grow and is harvested from the wild, the majority of that used for herbal supplements is from cultivated plants. The root or aboveground part of the plant during the flowering growth phase is used medicinally.
The stout, bristly stem bears hairy, linear-lanceolate leaves, tapering at both ends, the lower on long petioles, the upper sessile. The distinctive flower features 12 to 20 large, spreading, dull-purple rays and a conical disk made up of numerous purple, tubular florets. Flowering time is June to October.
As an immune system stimulant, echinacea is best taken for a specific period of time. At the onset of a cold, it can be taken three to four times per day for ten to fourteen days. To prevent a cold, many people take echinacea tablets or capsules three times per day for six to eight weeks. A “rest” period is recommended after this, as echinacea’s effects may diminish if used longer.
If preferred, powdered echinacea, in about 900 mg amounts, can be taken.
Liquid extracts are typically taken as 3-4 ml, three times per day.
Dried root: (or as tea): 1-2 grams
Freeze dried plant: 325-650 milligrams
Echinacea is essentially nontoxic when taken orally. People should not take echinacea without consulting a physician if they have an autoimmune illness, such as lupus, or other progressive diseases, such as tuberculosis or multiple sclerosis. Those who are allergic to flowers of the daisy family should take echinacea with caution. There are no known contra-indications to the use of echinacea during pregnancy or lactation.