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Echinacea

  

Common Names Echinacea

Echinacea Angustifolia L.

Echinacea Purpurea L.

Echinacea Pallida L.

Compositae

Composite family

Common Names

Sacred Plant (by Native Americans) 

Black sampson 

Narrow-leaved purple coneflower 

Purple coneflower 

Red sunflower 

Sampson root

Parts Usually Used

Roots and leaves

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A perennial, native to North America, Coneflower gets its common name from the arrangement of the florets of its showy, daisy-like flowers around a prominent center or "cone." Sturdy branching stems 2-5 ft tall with long, dark green leaves and showy daisy-like flowers up to 6-inches across, with drooping rays ranging from white to purplish pink. Flowers in summer. Full sun in zones 3-10. Heat tolerant. It flowers almost all summer and tolerates drought and poor soil. The coneflower is among the most beautiful of native North American plants. Plants from seed will take 2-3 years to flower. Set out in the spring, spaced 1-1/2 ft apart. Coneflower needs full sun and deep, light loamy soil. It can stand dry conditions and does best with 2 or 3 applications of balanced fertilizer during the growing season. It's a good idea to mark the location of seedlings the first few years, since the plant dies back to the ground in the winter. Both Angustifolia and Purpurea are equal in their effects, but the Angustifolia has long tap root, 6-20 in., leaves are lance-shaped, stiff-hairy flowers with prominent cone-shaped disk surrounded by pale to deep purple spreading rays, June-September rays are about as long as the width of disk (to 1 1/4 in.). The Purpurea has a rootstock and does not penetrate quite so deeply into the earth. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea) is distinguished from other purple coneflowers by its oval coarsely toothed leaves, flatter (less cone-shaped) disk, and the orange-tipped bristles on the flowerheads. Flowers June-Sept. The leaves and root are used, especially in West German products, as stimulants to the immune system, for the treatment of colds, flu, and other common ailments. Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Pallida) grows from 2-4 ft tall. The showy purple ray flowers may be 4 in. long. Flowers May-Aug. The range of this purple coneflower is more eastern than that of its close relative (Angustifolia). Narrow-leafed Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Angustifloria), long considered the most important medicinal species of the purple coneflower, E. angustifolia is smaller than E. pallida; it grows to 20 in. tall. The ray petals are shorter, usually no longer than the width of the cone disk. This species occurs in the western prairies. Hybrids occur where the ranges of E. angustifolia and E. pallida meet.

Medicinal Properties

Alterative, antibacterial, antiviral, analgesic, digestive, tonic, antiseptic, depurative, febrifuge, sialagogue, diaphoretic

Biochemical Information

An essential oil containing the oncolytic hydrocarbon (z) -1, 8-Pentadecadiene; polysaccharide

6. (a heteroxylan) containing arabinose, xylose, glucose and 4-0-methylgluronic acid; polysaccharide,

7. (an arabinorhamnogalactic) containing rhamnose, arabinose, galactose and glucutonic acid; echinacen (an isoabutylkylamide comprising 0.01% of the dried root of E. angustifolia and 0.001% of the dried root of E. pallida; ecinolone (appolyacetylene compound from E. angustifolia); echinacoside (a glycoside found in E. angustifolia, at concentrations of 1% of root preparations; echinacin B; an unsaturated aliphatic sesquiterpene, betain; inulin; inuloid; fructose, sucrose; higher fatty acids; 6.9% protein in air dried roots of E. angustifolia, 5.3% in E. purpurea; tannin; vitamin C; enzymes; an unidentified glycoside; resin; acids and thirteen polyacetylene compounds. May also be used as carminitive, stimulant, vulnerary.

Legends, Myths and Stories

Echinacea has been long used by Native Americans for Medicinal purposes and is now regaining its importance because extracts from its roots, etc., have been found to be effective in strengthening the immune system. It shows promise as a source of potent drugs for use with AIDS and other afflictions. Almost 25% of the drugs we use are based on plants. All three varieties are used in a like manner, however, some consider the E. pallida less active. Plains Indians are said to have used Echinacea for more medicinal purposes than any other plant group (member of the sunflower family). Science confirms many traditional uses, plus cortisone-like activity; also insecticidal, bactericidal, and immuno-stimulant activities. More than 200 pharmaceutical preparations are made from Echinacea plants in W. Germany, including extracts, salves, and tinctures, used for wounds, herpes sores, canker sores, throat infections (including Strep), preventative for influenza, colds. A folk remedy for brown recluse spider bites. E. angustifolia is widely used in Europe, although it is not native there. Most commercial W. German preparations utilize extracts of above-ground parts and roots of E. purpurea. Extracts are used to stimulate nonspecific defense mechanisms at infections and chronic inflammations. It has been asserted that the components thought responsible for immune-system stimulating activity were not absorbed by oral ingestion, and could be effective only in an injectable form. A recent German study, however, showed significant immune-system stimulating activity with orally administered extracts of all three varieties of Echinacea, both in mice and laboratory experiments. Perhaps additional components are involved in immuno-stimulating activity than those previously known. The Native Americans, for instance, had the victim of a snake-bite chew the leaves and roots of the plant. Swallowing the juice when chewed, the pulp was made into a poultice for the wound area after the cite was lanced with a knife and venom sucked out until blood was flowing. It was thought that so doing the patient would be free of snake-bite symptoms in just 2-3 days. Many studies show that echinacea prevents the formation of an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which destroys a natural barrier between healthy tissue and unwanted pathogenic organisms. Therefore, echinacea helps the body maintain its line of defense against unwanted invaders, especially viruses. Echinacea is less depleting on the body than golden seal, and so is preferable for more long term usage.

Uses

Echinacea stimulates the body's immune system against all infectious and inflammatory conditions, counteracts pus, and stimulates digestion. It specifically strengthens the immune system against pathogenic infection by stimulating phagocytosis, T-cell formation, and by inhibiting the hyalurinadase enzyme secreted by bacteria to effect the breakdown of cell walls and the formation of pus. It is one of the most powerful and effective remedies against all kinds of bacterial and viral infections. It should be taken frequently, every hour or two during acute stages of inflammation, tapering off as symptoms improve. There are no generally recognized side effects of Echinacea overdose, but some have noted a peculiar scratchy, tickling sensation in the throat from excessive use. Root (chewed, or in tea) used for snakebites, spider bites, cancers, toothaches, wounds, external ulcers, bed sores, burns, boils, acne, eczema, hard-to-heal sores and wounds, flu, fever, and colds. Blood poisoning, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), lowers blood pressure, fevers, carbuncles (boils), acne, eczema, bee stings and poisonous insects and snakes, erysipelas, AIDS, restore normal immune function in patients receiving chemotherapy, gangrene, diphtheria, tonsillitis, sores and infections, wounds (especially hard-to-heal), pustules, abscesses, lymph glands, strep throat, excellent blood cleanser, flatulence, syphilitic conditions, gonorrhea, prostatitis, vaginal yeast infection, candida, peritonitis, prevention of growth and development of pathogenic organisms, stimulation of the immune system, typhoid fever and indigestion. There have been studies using echinacea in the food of dogs and cats with infections. The results were very positive and the conclusions were that the herb was effective in fighting infections in animals. The dosages are quite different for animals than for humans. Recommended doses are to use approximately 1.0 g of herb per 10 kg of body weight. The Sioux Indians used fresh scraped root for rabies (hydrophobia), snakebites, and septicemia.

 

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.