Echinacea

“Echinacea”

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Native Americans used Echinacea to treat snake bites, fevers, and old, stubborn wounds. Early settlers soon adopted the plant as a home remedy for colds and flus, and it became a staple of the 19th-century Eclectics. 

In the past 50 years, Echinacea has achieved fame for its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. 


Latin Botanical: Echinacea purpurea / Echinacea angustifolia

Common Name(s): Echinaceae, Cone Flower

Family: Asteraceae

Part(s) Used: Root (Americas) whole plant (Europe)

Qualities: Slightly sweet, then bitter. Warm, dry tingling sensation on the tongue and mucous membranes.


 Constituants: 

  • Alkylamides
  • Caffeic acid derivatives – cichoric acid
  • Polysaccharides
  • Polyacetylenes (esp. in fresh Echinacea purpurea and E. pallida)
  • Volatile oil
  • Flavonoids incl. quercetin, kaempferol
  • Trace elements incl. Zn, Fe, Ca, Mn.
  • Inulin, iron, copper, cobalt & fatty acids (Hall)

“It has proved a useful drug in improving the body’s own resistance in infectious conditions of all kinds…”-  Rudolf Weiss, 1985


Actions: 

  • Immunostimulant
  • Immunomodulator
  • Lymphatic
  • Depurative
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant / free radical scavenger
  • Vulnerary
  • Sialagogue

 Indications: 

  • Bacterial or viral infections (prevention and treatment)
  • URTIs, colds and influenza
  • Other viral, fungal and bacterial infections
  • Sore throats, tonsillitis, toothaches (gargle)
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune conditions
  • Skin conditions – acne, eczema, psoriasis, impetigo (Staph.)
  • Slow healing wounds, dermal wounds, bruises, burns, scratches, leg ulcers, acne, impetigo (school sores) (topically)
  • Reduces chemotherapy side effects and leukopaenia (WBCs)
  • Traditionally – snake bite, abscesses, septicaemia

Echinacea is specific in folk medicine for organ inflammation and decay, including appendicitis.

Use in combination with bromelain to help reduce swelling, increase healing and reduce the risk of clotting after surgery.


DOROTHY HALL:

PRESENCE OF “PUS”

Pus filled pimples – especially those on the neck and face

Tooth abscess or boils.

TO BE USED WHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IS FIGHTING HARD – Prevents infections and increases the body’s defence systems.

Especially indicated if there is history of resistant or recurrent infections.  May prevent SECONDARY infections, blood changes, pus formation, increase removal of toxic wastes.

Dorothy Hall said this herb may increase leucocytes and the body’s defence against pathogens.

Good for PROPHYLACTIC treatment to be taken in times where there is chance of infection – e.g. travel, insect borne transmission of infection, around other people with infection etc.


Native to the United Sates; east of the Mississippi, E. purpurea is dominant while E. angustifolia is prominent in Western prairies.  It is said that the Plains Indians favoured E. angustifolia.  It was used by Plains Indians specifically for rattlesnake bites and bite from rabid dogs, although it had many other used for both acute and chronic diseases.

For conditions with “tiredness”; flushed face, chills, offensive discharges, temperature and mental confusion. A remedy suited to low-grade, septic infection, or “heat in the blood”.

A constitutional remedy for those people who chronically produce boils, particularly small boils that are very sensitive, and come in crops, often on the neck and shoulders.

Matthew Wood calls Echinacea the “farmer remedy” because it is indicated for people who just can’t take a rest, have to work hard, through a season, and then fall sick when they do get a little break.  This also makes it a useful remedy for students who often get sick following exams or assessments, or for people who have poor work habits and no boundaries.


Contraindications/Cautions: Theoretically, may have an antagonistic interaction with immunosuppressive medication; exercise caution.

Theoretically increase white cell counts and improve px’s QOL — potentially beneficial interaction under professional supervision.

Cautions: Warn patients about tongue tingling.  Rare cases of allergic reaction have been reported; high doses can occasionally cause nausea and dizziness.  Do not use in individuals with known allergy to the Asteraceae plant family.          


Dosage: Liquid extract 20-40mL of 1:2 LE per week (root) Acute doses: 5-35ml per day In divided doses (3-10 doses per day)


Combinations: 

  • Thuja and baptisia
  • Astragalus and eleutherococcus
  • Buchu & Couchgrass – for kidney infections
  • Cleavers – Glandular Fever

OTHER USES:

  • ROOT DECOCTION: Take 10ml doses every 1-2 hours to treat acute stage of infection
  • ROOT TINCTURE: Take 2-5ml doses every 2-3 hours for influenza, chills and UTI – during first couple of days of acute Sx. For more chronic conditions – use standard doses and combine with other suitable herbs. May be used in 10ml doses for food poisoning and snakebites
  • WASH: Use decoction or diluted tincture for infected wounds. Use frequently
  • GARGLE: Use 10ml tincture in glass warm water for sore throats

References & Links to Articles:

Echinacea-Lancet-article_2007

Ody, Penelope (1998). The Herb Society’s Complete Medicinal Herbal. Milan: Dorling Kindersley 

Henriette’s Herbal Website – Echinacea in Impetigo Treatment

Echinacea Medicinal Properties

Echinacea for Preventing & Treating Common Cold

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