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Natural Healing with Echinacea

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 16 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Echinacea Coneflower Rhizome Antiseptic

Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia) is also known as Black Sampson, Coneflower and Purple Coneflower. It is native to North America and grows from Saskatchewan south to Tennessee and Texas. It is found on barrens, prairies and other dry, open places.

Echinacea's Healing History

The Western 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 early settlers quickly adopted the therapeutic use of the plant.

During the 19th century, Coneflower's roots were used by some doctors as an antiseptic and a blood purifier. The roots and rhizomes (underground stems) were said to be helpful in fighting infections, carbuncles, boils and abscesses Echinacea was also specified as a drug that would restore health generally.

These days, one of the most widely used herbal products in Europe is a liquid extract made from the root of Echinacea purpurea.

Echinacea's Healing Properties

The main active constituents of echinacea are the immune-enhancing, water-soluble polysaccharides, flavonoids, essential oils, polyacetylenes, and the alcohol-soluble alkylamides and caffeic acid derivatives. All of these vary slightly among the three main species of Echinacea (E. angustifolia, E. pallida, E. purpurea).

Killing a Cold

Every year, millions of people in the UK suffer from colds and flu, runny nose and sore throat, chills and low grade fever. These are all caused by one of the many contagious viral pathogens that can invade the upper respiratory tract. Although there is no cure for the common cold or flu, several studies suggest that taking echinacea at the first sign of a cold, flu, or sore throat may cause symptoms to be less severe and to subside sooner.

Fighting Infection

When taken orally, echinacea enhances the movement of white blood cells into areas of infection to destroy foreign particles, bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms. Echinacea can raise white blood cell activity when necessary to fight infection and lower it when the body's condition has improved. It also inhibits the growth of bacteria such as staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and increases general immune system function.

Soothing Skin

Used topically, echinacea speeds up wound healing and also prevents dry skin. It has also been sown to be effective in the treatment of psoriasis, eczema and inflammatory skin conditions. In one study of 4500 patients with inflammatory skin conditions, including psoriasis, 85% were cured with topical applications of echinacea salve.

Recommended Dosages

These dosages are appropriate when echinacea is used as a general immune support during an active infection. They should be taken three times daily.

Tincture 3/4 - 1 tsp (3 - 4 mL)
Fluid extract 1/4 - 1/2 tsp (1- 2 mL)
Pressed juice 1/2 - 3/4 tsp (2 - 3 mL)
Freeze dried 325 - 650 mg
Capsules 300 mg


High doses (over 1,000mg) can sometimes cause dizziness or nausea. For the best effect, it shouldn't be taken for more than one to two weeks at a time.

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