Article by Don Goldberg
| Echinacea purpurea |
Edited by: Donald Brown, N.D.
Common Name:Purple Coneflower
European Trade Name:Echinacin
Common Uses: Colds and Flu-Prevention and Treatment; Recurrent Infections of the Ears, Respiratory Tract, Urinary Tract; Recurrent Vaginal Yeast Infections.
Recommended Use: Expressed juice of the E. purpurea herb (contains 22% alcohol) or encapsulated dried juice(88.5 mg per capsule)-for short-term use 1 tsp (approx. 50 drops) or two capsules, then ½ tsp or one capsule every 2 hours throughout the day for 48 hours or until symptom relief is noted. For long-term use, ½ to 1 tsp of the liquid or one capsule of the dried juice three times daily. Echinacea should not be taken for more than eight weeks without interruption.
Side Effects: None known.
Contraindications: Echinacea is contraindicated in individuals with autoimmune illness, and other progressive systemic diseases like tuberculosis and multiple sclerosis. Echinacea is safe for use during pregnancy and lactation.
Plant Facts: Echinacea is a native American wild- flower belonging to the sunflower family. The commonly used name for Echinacea is "Purple Coneflower"because of its distinctive flower. There are nine species native to the United States and Canada; three species have entered the herb market and are used medicinally- Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida. While Echinacea species continue to grow and are harvested from the wild, the majority of plant material currently used for medicinal preparations comes from plants grown under controlled cultivation in either the United States or Europe.
History: Echinacea species enjoy a long and illustrious history in western herbal lore. Used widely by American Indians for a host of ailments, including treatment of venomous bites and external wounds, Echinacea was introduced into U.S. medical practice by the eclectic physician Dr. John King in 1887. Also championed by John Uri Lloyd, a Cincinnati pharmacist, Echinacea became very popular among medical professionals in the late 19th century.
By the early part of the 20th century, however, use of the plant in medical circles had dwindled, Echinacea was "rediscovered" in European phytotherapy circles in the 1930’s thanks to the efforts of Dr. Gerhard Madaus. Dr. Madaus, the founder of the pharmaceutical manufacturing firm Madaus AG of Cologne, Germany, came to the United States in search of Echinacea angustifolia seeds.
This form of Echinacea had been the best researched at that time. Ironically, Dr. Madaus came back to Germany with seed from Echinacea purpurea! Based on his pharmacological studies, Dr. Madaus created an E. purpurea product that has become the best researched medicinal preparation of Echinacea in the world.
Active Constituents Most of Echinacea’s immune-enhancing properties are attributed to complex sugar molecules known as "polysaccharides." One polysaccharide, arabinogalactan, has shown significant ability to stimulate the immune system.
The expressed juice of E. purpurea contains 80 grams of the herb for each 100 grams of the total medicine. The dried juice retains the same concentration and characteristics as the liquid product.
How Echinacea Works: Simply put, Echinacea activates the immune system. Large sugar molecules, known as polysaccharides, give Echinacea the ability to activate those portion