|Resembling a black-eyed
Susan, echinacea or purple coneflower is a North American perennial
that is indigenous to the central plains where it grows on road
banks, prairies, fields and in dry, open woods. It is also called
snake root because it grows from a thick black root that Indians
used to treat snake bites.
Herbalists consider Echinacea one of the best blood purifiers and
an effective antibiotic. It activates the body's immune system
increasing the chances of fighting off any disease. This popular
herb has been used to help ward off the common cold and to relieve
the symptoms of hay fever.
The Plains Indians used various species of echinacea to treat
poisonous insect and snake bites, toothaches, sore throat, wounds,
as well as mumps, smallpox, and measles. The settlers quickly
adopted the therapeutic use of the plant, and since that time it has
become one of the top selling herbs in the United States. Since the
early 1900's hundreds of scientific articles have been written about
echinacea. Most of the research during the past 10 years has focused
on the immunostimulant properties of the plant.
The constituents of echinacea include essential oil,
polysaccharides, polyacetylenes, betain, glycoside, sesquiterpenes
and caryophylene. It also contains copper, iron, tannins, protein,
fatty acids and vitamins
E. The most
important immune-stimulating components are the large
polysaccharides, such as inulin, that increase the production of
T-cells and increase other natural killer cell activity. Fat-soluble
alkylamides and a caffeic acid glycoside called echinacoside also
contribute to the herb's immune empowering effects.
It has been shown in animal and human studies to improve the
migration of white blood cells to attack foreign microorganisms and
toxins in the bloodstream. Research suggests that echinacea's
activity in the blood may have value in the defense of tumor cells.
Echinacea properties may offer benefit for nearly all infectious
conditions. Studies show echinacea prevents the formation of an
enzyme which destroys a natural barrier between healthy tissue and
damaging organisms. Echinacea is considered an effective therapeutic
agent in many infectious conditions including upper respiratory
common cold and sinusitis. The herb is a mild antibiotic that is
effective against staph and strep infections.
Echinacea aids in the production of interferon has increases
antiviral activity against, influenza (flu), herpes, an inflammation
of the skin and mouth. It may reduce the severity of symptoms such
as runny nose and sore throat and reduce the duration of illness.
Echinacea's antibacterial properties can stimulate wound healing
and are of benefit to skin conditions such as burns, insect bites,
ulcers, psoriasis, acne and eczema. It's anti-inflammatory
properties may relieve arthritis and lymphatic swelling.
It has also been used in homeopathy treatments for chronic
fatigue syndrome, indigestion, gastroenteritis, and weight loss.
Part Used: Root, dried; also liquid extract and
juice. Often used in combination with
Common Use: Echinacea products are used as a
general nonspecific stimulant to the immune system, supporting and
stabilizing cellular immunity and cleansing the blood, for the
prevention and treatment of infections. There are no known side
effects associated with it's use.
Care: Full sun or light shade in hotter climates.
Can grow in fairly poor and dry soil.