Echinacea – Herbs For Alternative Medicine


Echinacea is a member of the daisy family. It displays purple blossoms and grows as high as five feet and is native to Midwestern North America, from Saskatchewan to Texas. Echinacea is also called snake root because it grows from a thick black root that Indians used to treat snake bites. It is also called purple coneflower and hedgehog.

Echinacea is a hot-seller for people seeking to stave off the common cold. It is reported to have some properties that modestly boost immunity for battling upper respiratory infections, although more studies are needed before any conclusive statement can be made.

Laboratory testing shows that it contains echinacoside, an ingredient that may have antibiotic effects. Another ingredient, echinacein, is believed to block some mechanisms that enable infectious viruses or bacteria to invade body tissue.

Claims and Common Uses:

  • Has anti-viral properties and benefits nearly all infectious conditions such as the common cold, flu, and herpes
  • May have value in the defense of tumor cells
  • An effective antibiotic
  • Enhances the body’s immune system increasing the chances of fighting off disease
  • Used in the treatment of sinusitis and to relieve the symptoms of hay fever
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties which is used to treat arthritis and lymphatic swelling
  • Used in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, indigestion, gastroenteritis, and weight loss
  • Used to treat respiratory illnesses, mononucleosis, ear infections, septicemia (blood poisoning), and bladder infections
  • Effective as a topical medicine for eczema, boils, cuts, burns, abscesses, wounds, ulcers, psoriasis, acne, stings, hives, insect bites, and herpes

Part Used: Roots and leaves

Preparations: Available fresh, in dried form in bulk, freeze-dried, alcohol-based extract, liquid, tea, capsules, salve, and tinctures.

  • For internal use, freeze drying is the most effective way to preserve this herbs healing properties.
  • Fresh-pressed juice of the E. purpurea is the best preparation because it provides the greatest range of active compounds and has the greatest level of clinical support.
  • Often used in combination with goldenseal or vitamin C.
  • As a tea-boil 2 tsp. dried root in 1 cup water, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drink three times daily.

Side Effects and Warnings of Echinacea:

  • Use of echinacea is discouraged during pregnancy and for people with tuberculosis or autoimmune problems
  • Do not use echinacea continuously for more than a few weeks.
  • Do not give echinacea to children younger than two years old; start with minimal doses for older children and older adults.
  • Should not be used by those who are allergic to plants in the sunflower family