Brand Name: echinacea Latin Name:Echinacea species
Other names: Coneflower, Rudbeckia,
A Remedy For
Tendency to infection
There are three types of Echinacea:
Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea
pallida, and Echinacea angustifolia.
All are used to boost the immune
system and fight infections, but
only the purpurea and pallida varieties
have been definitively proven
effective. In general, the medicinal effects of the leaves are better documented
than the effects of the roots.
In addition to the conditions listed
above, the purpurea variety of
Echinacea is considered an effective
treatment for urinary tract infections
and poorly healing wounds, skin
ulcers, and burns. The root of Echinacea purpurea is used to reestablish the
supply of white blood cells following
cancer treatments, and to supplement
other anti-infection drugs.
In folk medicine, the angustifolia
variety of Echinacea is widely used for
conditions such as wounds, burns,
swelling of the lymph nodes, insect
bites, stomach cramps, measles,
gonorrhea, and snake bite. However, its
effectiveness for these conditions
has not been proven.
What It Is; Why It Works
As a natural buttress to immunity,
Echinacea has become one of the
hottest items in the current herbal
renaissance--and its reputation is not
Researchers have found that the
leaves of Echinacea purpurea speed the
healing of wounds and boost the
effectiveness of the immune system by
increasing the number of white blood
cells, spleen cells, and other
disease-fighting agents such as
T-helper cells and interleukin. In addition, Echinacea purpurea root has been
shown to prevent the growth of bacteria
Tests conducted on Echinacea pallida
have shown that it too strengthens
the body's defenses against disease;
and extracts from the root have
stopped the growth of viruses in the
lab. Likewise, lab tests of Echinacea
angustifolia have shown that it
stimulates the immune system and will kill bacteria or prevent their growth.
Originating in North America,
Echinacea was used by the Sioux tribe for snakebites, and by other Native
Americans as a general antiseptic. It is now cultivated in the United States
and Europe. Its taste is slightly sweet, then bitter, leaving a tingling
sensation on the tongue.
Because of Echinacea's effects on
the immune system, you should not
take this drug if you have multiple
sclerosis, AIDS, tuberculosis, leukemia, and autoimmune diseases such as
rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Do not take Echinacea injections if
you have an allergy to the plant. Avoid
them, too, if you have diabetes;
they can upset the balance of the
You should not take Echinacea for
longer than 8 weeks.
Echinacea does not have side effects
when taken orally at customary
dosage levels. However, when
Echinacea extract is given intravenously it can lead to shivers, short-term
fever, and very rarely an immediate allergic reaction.
Possible Drug Interactions
No interactions have been reported.
Special Information If You Are
Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Do not take Echinacea purpurea
injections if you are pregnant.
How To Prepare
Echinacea angustifolia root is often
made into a tea. Pour boiling water
over one-half teaspoonful of crushed
root, steep for 10 minutes, and strain.
Echinacea pallida is usually taken
orally. The daily dosage is 900
milligrams taken in a 50% alcohol
The usual daily dosage of Echinacea
purpurea leaf is 6 to 9 milliliters
(about 11/4 to 13/4 teaspoonfuls) of
Echinacea purpurea root is taken in
tincture form. The usual daily dosage
is 30 to 60 drops taken 3 times a
If you are taking Echinacea
angustifolia tea for a cold, drink a freshly made cup several times a day.
The potency and form of commercial
preparations may vary. Follow the
manufacturer's instructions whenever
If you are using the root, store it
away from light, and do not crush until
you are ready to make a preparation.
No information on overdosage is