An Introduction To Echinacea


Echinacea is a wildflower found and harvested in North America. Although the wild variety is used in herbal medicine, herbal supplements are derived from cultivated plants of Echinacea. It is commonly known as Coneflower (Purple) and bears a botanical names of Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea. The parts of the Echinacea plant for use in treating diseases are picked up during the flowering growth phase. Its root and or shoot are of value in preparing herbal medicine.

It has been proved clinically that Echinacea modulates the immune system. The modulated immune system is able to identify and destroy the microorganism responsible for causing diseases. If the immune system works efficiently, then there are less chances of getting trapped into colds, coughs, flues and other infections. Phagocytosis is a phenomenon by which white blood cells and lymphocytes eat away the invading microorganism. Echinacea is shown to increase phagocytosis by 20-40%. Echinacea enhances the level of interferon and other important compound of immune system.

Hyaluronidase is an enzyme secreted by microorganisms which helps them to invade healthy cells in a wound in the human body. It is shown that Echinacea neutralizes the action of this enzyme and prevents infections in the wound.

Traditionally Echinacea is used orally for the treatment of viruses and bacteria, but now it is also used for treating external wounds because it is learned that it reduces inflammation and enhances the growth of healthy tissues in the wound.

Properties of Echinacea are Antiseptic, Immune System Stimulating, mild antibiotic, bacteriostatic, antiviral, antifungal.

Active ingredients of Echinacea are polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids.

How to use Echinacea?

Echinacea may be available as dried root and or herb, standard extracts (fresh or tincture), juice of root and or the herb, extracted powder of root and or herb.

For children, advice of a herbal specialist should be obtained and products used should be free from alcohol.

Adult can take tea made from 2 grams dried root and or herb, or 2 to 3 ml. of standard tincture extract, or 1 to 3 ml of Tincture (1:5) 6 to 9 ml of expressed juice, or300 mg of extracted powder or 0.75 ml of stabilized fresh extract. The recommended dose should be taken at two hours interval on the first day and then three times daily until the symptoms disappear and for not more than 7 to 10 days. This regimen is useful stimulating the immune system during colds, coughs, flu, fungal infections due to yeast and infection of bladder. Echinacea is helpful in reducing the period of sufferings in the incidences of sore throats, ear and eye infections.

Creams and ointments should be applied on wounds as required

Although use of herbal medicine is relatively free from adverse effects, plant may contain active ingredient which may precipitate adverse reactions and/or interact with other herbal supplements or medicine or food. Therefore, medicine in any form should always be consumed under supervision of a qualified professional. Patients allergic to plants and trees in general, should take Echinacea under medical supervision.

As is the case with any medicine, in rare cases, echinacea can precipitate allergic events, which may be in the form of a minor rash or may be an acute anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe reactive event which may be fatal and is determined by tightening of throat muscles, severe difficulty in breathing, and onset of fainting. Asthmatics and patients suffering from different types of allergies are prone to suffer from some or other adverse reactions due to Echinacea.

Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, liver disorders, leukemia, connective tissue disorders, diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV or AIDS and patients undergoing organ transplants should not take Echinacea. It is advisable to avoid use of Echinacea during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Oral consumption of Echinacea may cause temporary numbing and tingling of the tongue.