Habitat & Cultivation : Indigenous to the central regions of the United States, three echinacea species hold medicinal significance: E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida. Due to their threatened status in the wild, it is recommended to exclusively utilize commercially grown plants. E. purpurea, extensively cultivated in both the US and Europe, flourishes when grown from seed in spring or through root division in winter, particularly in nutrient-rich, sandy soil. Harvesting is typically performed during flowering, collecting leaves and flowers, while the roots of 4-year-old plants are lifted in the autumn.
- Alkylamides (mostly isobutylamides)
- Caffeic acid esters (mainly echinacoside and cynarin)
- Immune modulator
- Heals wounds
- Stimulates saliva
- Immune system : Scientific investigations into echinacea have substantiated its capability to augment the quantity and enhance the effectiveness of white blood cells, although the precise mechanism by which it influences immune function remains not fully elucidated. The polysaccharides present in echinacea hinder the ability of viruses to commandeer cells, whereas the alkylamides exhibit antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research provides backing for the utilization of echinacea in preventing colds and respiratory infections, particularly those associated with air travel. It is noteworthy that not all clinical trials have reported positive effects, potentially attributable to instances where the dosage of echinacea administered was insufficient.
Traditional & Current uses
- Native American medicine : Among the Comanche, echinacea was employed as a remedy for toothaches and sore throats, while the Sioux utilized it to address conditions such as rabies, snake bites, and septic ailments.
- Western uses : Echinacea holds a prominent position in Western herbal medicine, serving as a primary remedy for various health issues, particularly viral and fungal infections, as well as skin conditions like acne and boils. It is often recommended as an effective gargle for throat infections and is commonly prescribed by herbalists in cases where the immune system is compromised or underperforming.
- Allergies : The herb is a helpful remedy for treating allergies, such as asthma.