Echinacea (E. angustifolia, E. atrorubens, E. laevigata, E. pallida, E. paradoxa, E. purpurea, E. sanguinea, E. simulata, E. tennesseensis) is a herb that is extremely effective for multiple acute inflammatory conditions. Echinacea is a perennial member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). It has no side effects, except for some contraindications and interactions with licorice, ginger (Terra, 1998) and medicines listed below (Gaby, 2006). There are nine different species of Echinacea, with E. angustifolia the most potent, and E. purpurea the most common.
Echinacea has been effectively used to prevent colds, flu, and any other types of infections. Echinacea has been known for strengthening the immune system. increasing the ability of white cells to surround and destroy virus in the blood. Some people also use Echinacea for the treatment of acne and boils. It has been used in stimulation of blood clotting in wounds healing by one Russian scientist (Mowrey, 1986: 250).
The entire Echinacea plant including the roots are dried and made into teas, juices, and tonics. Natives used to use Echinacea for many different things including the treatment of poisonous snake bites and insect bites (Mowrey, 1986: 250).
Back in the 1800’s Echinacea played a very large part of United States medicine and then it spread to Germany where since 1930’s it has been used in acute arthritic diseases, certain cancers, and various viral diseases.
There are many various parts of the Echinacea plant that are used to make medicine but the roots have the most value, flowers are used also. Echinacea can be taken in form of tablets, capsules, juice, tea, extracts and tinctures.
Echinacea is an extremely beneficial herb for helping the body rid itself of microbial infections. When combined with other herbs such as Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Bearberry it is said to work great combating cystitis however Echinacea has yet to be endorsed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness.
The following groups would be at risk if Echinacea is taken: people with multiple sclerosis, white blood cell disorders, collagen disorders, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, or tuberculosis.
Caution if you have any plant allergies; take other medications, or herbal remedies. Children should not take Echinacea, nor should pregnant women or nursing mothers. People who are on steroid medicine including betamethasone, cortisone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, triamcinolone, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, azathioprine, or other immune system suppressants should avoid the use of Echinacea. Click here for contraindications.
At the time of writing this article, the medicines below interact with echinacea:
- Chemotherapy (Gaby, 2006: 54)
- Cisplatin (Gaby, 2006: 64)
- Cystophosphamide (Gaby, 2006: 79)
- Docetaxel (Gaby, 2006: 95)
- Econazole (Gaby, 2006: 103)
- Flurouracil (Gaby, 2006: 116)
- Methotrexate (Gaby, 2006: 169)
- Paclitaxel (Gaby, 2006: 205)
Gaby A. (2006). A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press
Mowrey, D. (1986). The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc.
Tierra, M. (1998). The way of the herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.