Echinacea

Scientific Name/Common Name: Echinacea purpurea/ Echinacea angustifolia / Echinacea

Part(s) Used: Leaf and Root

Constituents/Active Ingredients: Root: Echinacea purpurea and angustifolia contain: alkylamides, polyacetylenes, polysaccharides, flavonoids, and essential oil. E. purpurea contains the caffeic acid ester, chicoric acid. E. angustifolia contains caffeic acid esters echinacoside and cynarin. Aerial parts: Lesser amounts of the alkylamides, flavonoids, essential oil, caffeic acid esters, and polysaccharides. Additionally contains caffeic acid esters, verbascoside (E. angustifolia), caftaric acid (E. purpurea), and chlorogenic and isochlorogenic acid (E. angustifolia).

Overview: Echinacea species are native to North America and are found across the U.S. Midwest. Echinacea roots were chewed or used in teas by many Native American tribes as natural remedies against infections of many different kinds including from colds, flus, insect bites, snakebites, and burns, and externally as an ointment for poorly healing wounds and abnormal growths. Various First Nation groups also used Echinacea traditionally to soothe sore throats and tonsillitis and poured the tea over hot coals in the steam house to treat respiratory ailments. Echinacea root and its preparations are widely used around the world today to support the immune system. Medical authorities in Germany recommend Echinacea as a supportive measure in the treatment of infections, most commonly of the respiratory as well as the urinary tract. A 2007 meta-analysis of Echinacea species for the common cold looked at 14 studies that included 1,356 people for the incidence of colds and 1,630 people for the duration of colds. Five of these studies used the fresh-pressed juice of E. purpurea. The results showed that Echinacea reduced the chance of catching a cold by 58% and decreased the duration of the cold by 1.4 days.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help fight off infections, relieve cold symptoms, and shorten duration of upper respiratory tract infections. Traditionally used topically to aid healing of minor skin wounds.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.

Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, Rinaldi M, Coleman CI. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. July 2007; 7(7):473-480.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.