Echinacea is a perennial plant with purple blossoms, commonly known as ‘coneflower’. Native to eastern and central North America, Echinacea was widely used by the North American Plains Indians to treat infections and as a general health promoter. There are 3 different species of Echinacea used medicinally: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. There is strong research showing that the root of both angustifolia and pallida is most effective, while in purpurea the fresh flowering tops have the best medicinal effect. Some supplements combine the three species for maximum effect.
Echinacea is probably the primary herb for stimulating immune system function. It promotes the activation of T-cells and formation of white blood cells, the body’s defence against infection.
Due to its immune promoting properties echinacea is effective against most bacterial, viral and fungal infections and as an anti-parasitic. It is a specific in treating HIV/ AIDS and in colds, flu and all kinds of upper respiratory tract conditions. Skin, urinary tract, genital and gum infections are all indications for Echinacea. It is used intravenously to treat some cancers and can be an important part of a healing regime in treating many other diseases.
Echinacea Side Effects and Contraindications
Echinacea is generally a safe and effective medicine when used as recommended. Safe to use in pregnancy, breastfeeding, for babies and children at recommended dosages. There are rare cases of allergic rash or asthma occurring in people who are also allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.