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ECHINACEA




Echinacea


Botanical Name

Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea, E. pallida

Common Name

Echinacea, coneflower, purple coneflower, purple Kansas coneflower, comb flower, Missouri snakeroot

Family

Asteraceae

Parts Used

Roots, flower heads, leaves

Native To

North America, from Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the north to New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana in the south.

Harvesting Guidelines

Please do not harvest wild echinacea. Cultivated roots are generally best dug in the fall after the first frost. Leaves and flowers can be harvested in summer when flowers are in full bloom. Using the fresh aerial parts is recommended (constituents become less active when dried).

 

Echinacea, a plant native to North America, has been used for centuries by Indigenous communities for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The roots of Echinacea angustifolia are commonly used topically for wound healing and sore muscles, while the leaves and roots of E. purpurea and E. pallida are known for their immune-boosting effects. The Cherokee tribe has used E. purpurea to treat various infections and inflammatory conditions, including ear infections, fevers, and headaches. Other Indigenous communities, such as the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, and Muskogee, have used echinacea as a natural pain reliever and antimicrobial agent for toothaches and mouth infections. The root can be chewed or made into a paste for this purpose.(1)


Echinacea has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. The root and flower head are the most commonly used parts of the plant, known for their antimicrobial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Indigenous North American communities were the first to use echinacea for its herbal benefits, and later, Eclectic physicians helped introduce it to European and European-American medical professionals. From the late 1800s to the late 1920s, echinacea was one of the most commonly used herbs in the United States.(2)


Echinacea, also known as the purple coneflower, is a popular herbal remedy used for its immune-boosting properties. In Germany, the fresh juice of E. purpurea's aerial parts is recommended by the German Commission E when in flower. Interestingly, it is believed that the reason for the popularity of E. purpurea in Germany is due to a shipment mistake where purpurea seeds were imported instead of angustifolia seeds from the U.S. Additionally, purpurea is easier to grow, which may have contributed to its increased popularity.(3)


According to Buhner , echinacea can be an effective antiviral for addressing viruses such as HIV and flu strains. However, timing and delivery are crucial. Echinacea must come into direct contact with the virus right before or at the moment of infection, which is often indicated by a tingling sensation in the throat. By strengthening the cellular bonds in the mucous membranes, echinacea can prevent the virus from penetrating deeper into the tissues. To achieve this, Buhner recommends taking 30 drops of echinacea tincture every hour until symptoms are reduced. For bacterial infections like strep throat and tonsillitis, direct contact with echinacea at the back of the throat is also recommended.(4)


Echinacea is often marketed as a go-to herb for cold and flu relief, but its traditional use may have been oversimplified. Human studies on its effectiveness have yielded mixed results, with some showing that it can reduce symptoms and duration of a cold, while others show no effect. To fully understand its traditional use, it's important to consider the species used, the plant parts used, dosage, frequency of administration, and methods of administration. With so many variables, drawing firm conclusions about echinacea can be challenging.


In a clinical study conducted in Germany, 160 patients with upper respiratory tract infections were given an aqueous-alcoholic tincture of Echinacea pallida (at a ratio of 1:5) at a dosage of 90 drops per day. The study, which included a placebo control group, showed significant improvement in the duration of illness for patients who received the Echinacea treatment. For bacterial infections, the duration of illness decreased from 13 to 9.8 days, while viral infections saw a decrease from 12.9 to 9.1 days. (5)

 

Adult Dose (6)


Juice: 1-3 teaspoons of the fresh juice of aerial parts, 3 times/day

Tincture: 1-4 mL (1:5, 40%) 3x/day . For throat infections and onset of cold and flu: 30 drops an hour of a 1:5 in 70%

Topical: finely grind dried root and sprinkle on infected wounds or mix with water to form a paste and place on area


Safety

Echinacea, a popular herbal supplement, may cause allergic reactions in individuals who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family. While there are concerns about the use of echinacea in individuals with systemic diseases like tuberculosis, HIV, and autoimmune disorders, there is currently no definitive data to support or refute these concerns. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking echinacea or any other herbal supplement.(7)


Actions


Energy

Cooling


References:


(1)Garrett, J.T. (2003). The Cherokee herbal: Native plant medicine from the four directions. Bear & Company.

(2)Foster, S., & Johnson, R.L. (2008). Desk reference to nature’s medicine. National Geographic.

(3)Foster, S. (1991). Echinacea: Nature’s immune enhancer. Healing Arts Press.

(4)Buhner, S. (2012). Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

(5)Bräunig B, Knick E. (1993). [Therapeutic experience of Echinaceae pallidae for flu-like infections. Results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study.] Ergebnisse einer plazebokontrollierten Doppelblindstudie. Naturheilpraxis, 1993, 46:72–75.

(6)Buhner, S. (2012). Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

(7)Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. (2013). American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook. CRC Press.



 

Scientific Research:



















Information offered on Achula and on this page is for educational purposes only. Achula makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or nursing, and persons with known medical conditions, should consult their licensed healthcare provider before taking any herbal product. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Achula neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.



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