Other names: Black Susan, American Coneflower, Kansas Snakeroot
Varieties: Echinacea purpurea, Echincaea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida
Echinacea is a powerful immune stimulating herb and one that we use in the clinic often, especially during the cooler months when there is a prevalence of respiratory infections and bouts of general illness. Echinacea has been used for centuries and prior to the development of antibiotics in the 1940’s, was prescribed by conventional doctors as well as natural and traditional practitioners as an anti-infective agent. Whilst Echinacea has remained a steadfast immune modulating agent in the natural medicine community, its increasing popularity and re-emergence in recent decades in allopathic medicine is owed to significant clinical studies supporting this herb’s powerful properties as well as our increasing awareness to the limitations and ill-effects of antibiotic treatment.
There are several varieties of Echinacea, we prefer a combination of Echinacea purpurea and Echincaea angustifolia. Used together they increase the bioavailability and effectiveness of the treatment. Herbal medicine utilises three parts of the Echinacea plant – the root, leaf and aerial parts. The root is the most active part of the plant and the one we use to prepare our herbal tinctures. When searching for the most bioavailable products we seek out Echinacea that contains standardised alkylamides. The alkylamides are the most therapeutic constituent of the herb (although there are many other healthful properties in Echinacea, the alkylamides produce the most beneficial effect). The root part of the plant contains the most alkylamides. Have you ever noticed when you have taking a liquid Echinacea tincture, a unique tingling in your mouth? That is the presence of the alkylamides and that is a sign of a good quality, pure product!
Echinacea, what is it good for?
- Prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections; both acute and chronic
- Treatment of common cold with Echinacea reduces the severity and duration illness
- Treat acute sore throat
- Stimulating immune system function for those who have suppressed or weakened immunity, during periods of stress or prior to air travel
- Topical treatment for skin wounds and infections
- There is some evidence to suggest Echinacea may help in treating halitosis (or bad breath!)