Echinacea (Echinacea angustifulia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea), Purple coneflower, Sampson root
Main Facts about Echinacea
Echinacea is a perennial herb with a sturdy, leaveless stem and a large composite flower head. It grows from a taproot. Echinacea is native to the midwestern region of North America. Three species of the plant are commonly used for medicinal purposes: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. Different products use different parts of the echinacea plant, which is why the effectiveness of echinacea may differ from one product to another. Echinacea plant is native to North America and was used as traditional "cure-all" herbal remedy by the Indian tribes. Later, settlers began using echinacea for snake bites and for cleansing and healing wounds. For a time, echinacea enjoyed official status as a result of being listed in the US National Formulary from 1916-1950. However, use of echinacea fell out of favor in the United States with the discovery of antibiotics and due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting its use.
Using EchinaceaLaboratory studies suggest that Echinacea can boost the body’s immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have antiviral, and antioxidant effects. Echinacea seems to activate chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms. Today it is recommended to use to shorten the duration of cold and flu, and reduce symptoms, such as sore throat, cough, and fever. One study of 95 people with early symptoms of cold and flu (such as runny nose, scratchy throat, and fever) found that those who drank several cups of echinacea tea every day for 5 days felt better sooner than those who drank tea without echinacea. It is important to choose a high-quality echinacea supplement, and to use echinacea as early as possible in the course of a cold, with multiple doses per day for the first few days. You need to take a sufficient amount of Echinacea often enough to get good results. Echinacea also seems to contain some chemicals that can attack yeast and other kinds of fungi directly. For these reasons it is used to treat urinary tract infections, yeast (candida) infections, ear infections (also known as otitis media), athlete's foot, sinusitis, hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis), as well as slow-healing wounds. Other uses not related to infection include chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatism, migraines, acid indigestion, pain, dizziness, rattlesnake bites, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Echinacea (in a form of ointement or tea)can be used topically to treat boils, abscesses, skin wounds, ulcers, burns, eczema, psoriasis, suburns, herpes, bee stings, and hemorrhoids. Commercially Echinacea (including one, two, or all three species) is available in many forms including tablets, juice, extracts, tinctures, capsules, ointments, and tea. It is also often combined with other immune-boosting herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
Caution!Echinacea is likely safe when taken by mouth or applied to the skin in suggested doses for up to eight weeks. Echinacea is most likely to cause allergic reactions in individuals who are allergic to ragweed, mums, marigolds, or daisies. Don’t take echinacea if you have an auto-immune disorder. Do not take echinacea on an empty stomach. Instead, take it with food or a large glass of water.
How to grow EchinaceaEchinacea grows in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Avoid damp spots and heavy mulching over crowns in winter. It is easy to start from seed. Once planted, they are best left alone — they do not transplant well. Sow seed as early as possible in the year, undercover, to allow for maximum growth; plants should be flowering by September. Normally, the plant tolerates hot, humid temperatures well. The soil should be moderately moist, but you don't have to water unless there is a long dry spell.