- Echinacea Angustifolia L.
- Echinacea Purpurea L.
- Echinacea Pallida L.
Plant (by Native Americans)
Parts Usually Used
Roots and leaves
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
perennial, native to North America, Coneflower gets its common name
from the arrangement of the florets of its showy, daisy-like flowers
around a prominent center or "cone." Sturdy branching stems 2-5
ft tall with long, dark green leaves and showy daisy-like flowers
up to 6-inches across, with drooping rays ranging from
white to purplish pink. Flowers in summer. Full sun in zones 3-10.
Heat tolerant. It flowers almost all summer and tolerates drought
and poor soil. The coneflower is among the most beautiful of native
North American plants. Plants from seed will take 2-3 years
to flower. Set out in the spring, spaced 1-1/2 ft apart.
Coneflower needs full sun and deep, light loamy soil. It can stand
dry conditions and does best with 2 or 3 applications
of balanced fertilizer during the growing season. It's a good idea
to mark the location of seedlings the first few years, since the plant
dies back to the ground in the winter.
Both Angustifolia and Purpurea are equal in their effects, but the
Angustifolia has long tap root, 6-20 in., leaves are
lance-shaped, stiff-hairy flowers with prominent cone-shaped disk
surrounded by pale to deep purple spreading rays, June-September rays
are about as long as the width of disk (to 1 1/4 in.).
The Purpurea has a rootstock and does not penetrate quite so deeply
into the earth. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea) is distinguished
from other purple coneflowers by its oval coarsely toothed leaves,
flatter (less cone-shaped) disk, and the orange-tipped bristles on
the flowerheads. Flowers June-Sept. The leaves and root are used,
especially in West German products, as stimulants to the immune system,
for the treatment of colds, flu, and other common ailments.
Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Pallida) grows from 2-4 ft
tall. The showy purple ray flowers may be 4 in. long. Flowers May-Aug.
The range of this purple coneflower is more eastern than that of its
close relative (Angustifolia). Narrow-leafed Purple Coneflower (Echinacea
Angustifloria), long considered the most important medicinal species
of the purple coneflower, E. angustifolia is smaller
than E. pallida; it grows to 20 in. tall.
The ray petals are shorter, usually no longer than the width of the
cone disk. This species occurs in the western prairies. Hybrids occur
where the ranges of E. angustifolia and E. pallida
E. angustifolia is found in prairies. Texas, western Oklahoma,
western Kansas, Nebraska, west to east Colorado, eastern Montans,
North Dakota, Man. and Sask. Canada.
E. Pallida is found in the prairies and glades of Arkansas
to Wisconsin, Minnesota, eastern Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska.
E. Purpurea is found in open woods, thickets; cultivated in
gardens. Michigan, Ohio to Louisiana, eastern Texas, Oklahoma.
Alterative, antibacterial, antiviral, analgesic, digestive, tonic,
antiseptic, depurative, febrifuge, sialagogue, diaphoretic
An essential oil containing the oncolytic hydrocarbon (z) -1, 8-Pentadecadiene;
- (a heteroxylan) containing arabinose, xylose, glucose and 4-0-methylgluronic
- (an arabinorhamnogalactic) containing rhamnose, arabinose, galactose
and glucutonic acid; echinacen (an isoabutylkylamide comprising
0.01% of the dried root of E. angustifolia and 0.001%
of the dried root of E. pallida; ecinolone (appolyacetylene
compound from E. angustifolia); echinacoside (a glycoside
found in E. angustifolia, at concentrations of 1% of
root preparations; echinacin B; an unsaturated aliphatic
sesquiterpene, betain; inulin; inuloid; fructose, sucrose; higher
fatty acids; 6.9% protein in air dried roots of E. angustifolia,
5.3% in E. purpurea; tannin; vitamin C;
enzymes; an unidentified glycoside; resin; acids and thirteen polyacetylene
compounds. May also be used as carminitive, stimulant, vulnerary.
Legends, Myths and Stories
Echinacea has been long used by Native Americans for Medicinal purposes
and is now regaining its importance because extracts from its roots,
etc., have been found to be effective in strengthening the immune
system. It shows promise as a source of potent drugs for use with
AIDS and other afflictions. Almost 25% of the drugs we use are based
on plants. All three varieties are used in a like manner, however,
some consider the E. pallida less active. Plains Indians
are said to have used Echinacea for more medicinal purposes than any
other plant group (member of the sunflower family). Science confirms
many traditional uses, plus cortisone-like activity; also insecticidal,
bactericidal, and immuno-stimulant activities. More than 200 pharmaceutical
preparations are made from Echinacea plants in W. Germany, including
extracts, salves, and tinctures, used for wounds, herpes sores, canker
sores, throat infections (including Strep), preventative for influenza,
A folk remedy for brown recluse spider bites. E. angustifolia
is widely used in Europe, although it is not native there. Most commercial
W. German preparations utilize extracts of above-ground parts and
roots of E. purpurea. Extracts are used to stimulate
nonspecific defense mechanisms at infections and chronic inflammations.
It has been asserted that the components thought responsible for immune-system
stimulating activity were not absorbed by oral ingestion, and could
be effective only in an injectable form. A recent German study, however,
showed significant immune-system stimulating activity with orally
administered extracts of all three varieties of Echinacea, both in
mice and laboratory experiments. Perhaps additional components are
involved in immuno-stimulating activity than those previously known.
The Native Americans, for instance, had the victim of a snake-bite
chew the leaves and roots of the plant. Swallowing the juice when
chewed, the pulp was made into a poultice for the wound area after
the cite was lanced with a knife and venom sucked out until blood
was flowing. It was thought that so doing the patient would be free
of snake-bite symptoms in just 2-3 days.
Many studies show that echinacea prevents the formation of an enzyme
called hyaluronidase, which destroys a natural barrier between healthy
tissue and unwanted pathogenic organisms. Therefore, echinacea helps
the body maintain its line of defense against unwanted invaders, especially
viruses. Echinacea is less depleting on the body than golden seal,
and so is preferable for more long term usage.
Echinacea stimulates the body's immune system against all infectious
and inflammatory conditions, counteracts pus, and stimulates digestion.
It specifically strengthens the immune system against pathogenic infection
by stimulating phagocytosis, T-cell formation, and by
inhibiting the hyalurinadase enzyme secreted by bacteria to effect
the breakdown of cell walls and the formation of pus. It is one of
the most powerful and effective remedies against all kinds of bacterial
and viral infections. It should be taken frequently, every hour or
two during acute stages of inflammation, tapering off as symptoms
improve. There are no generally recognized side effects of Echinacea
overdose, but some have noted a peculiar scratchy, tickling sensation
in the throat from excessive use.
Root (chewed, or in tea) used for snakebites,
spider bites, cancers,
external ulcers, bed sores,
hard-to-heal sores and
wounds, flu, fever,
Blood poisoning, pelvic
inflammatory disease (PID), lowers
blood pressure, fevers, carbuncles
(boils), acne, eczema, bee
stings and poisonous insects and snakes, erysipelas, AIDS,
restore normal immune function in patients receiving chemotherapy,
wounds (especially hard-to-heal),
lymph glands, strep
throat, excellent blood
cleanser, flatulence, syphilitic
conditions, gonorrhea, prostatitis,
vaginal yeast infection,
prevention of growth and development of pathogenic organisms, stimulation
of the immune system, typhoid fever
The Sioux Indians used fresh scraped root for rabies (hydrophobia),
snakebites, and septicemia.
Formulas or Dosages
Do not use the root once it has lost its odor.
Decoction: use 1 tsp. root with 1 cup boiling
water. Steep for 1/2 hour. Take 1 tbsp.
3 to 6 times a day.
Tincture: take 15 to 30 drops in water every
1 to 3 hours, as needed.
These vary with the condition under treatment. For instance, strep
throat needs to be treated with a gargle, snakebite is treated by
chewing the leaves and roots by the patient and applying to pulp to
the snakebite area after the venom is sucked out and it is bleeding
freely. Preparations vary, dosages vary. Commercial compounds vary.
The most common compound seems to be a combination with Myrrh to make
a tincture. Also capsules are available. In severe cases, two capsules
four times a day or 10 to 25 drops (gtts)
of the tincture every 2 hours in water. Although, this
can vary from 10-25 to 10-30 drops.
Unable to find dosage or concentrate for teas.
There are several formulae for using Echinacea. Blood purification,
skin and inflammatory conditions call for Echinacea root, golden seal,
chaparral, honeysuckle flowers, forsythia blossoms, sarsaparilla root,
yellow dock root, American ginseng, ginger root, cinnamon twigs. This
formula should be taken 2 to 4 tablets,
three times daily with warm water.
For treatment of flu, take four tablets with warm water two or three
times a day. Follow a simple diet, avoiding heating, dispersing and
denatured foods, drugs, stimulants, peppers, sugar (including fruit
juices and fruits), alcohol and excess meat. Each formula has its
own instructions and dosage.
For instance, the formula for skin and genital
herpes include: Echinacea, yellow dock, gentian root, golden seal,
bupleurum, poria, wild yam root, marshmallow root and myrrh gum. As
the formula varies, so does the dosage.
Consult the manufacturer if commercially offered. Since no overdose
or side effects have ever been noted, if the plant is used alone,
dosage of tea or tisanes would not be too critical except with acute
cases, after which taper off as symptoms disappear.
Fructose, vitamins A, C, and E.
Can be sold as fresh, freeze-dried, or an alcohol extract, liquid,
tea, capsule or salve.
Capsules: take 1 capsule for up to 3 times daily.
Extract: mix 15 to 30 drops in liquid every 3 hours.
Alcohol tincture may destroy polysaccharides in Echinacea that stimulate
the immune system, although other active ingredients remain intact
and active. Most tinctures are 20% alcohol in order to preserve the
herb, but even 10% ruins the Echinacea. The freeze-dried form is much
Some active ingredients in this herb can be destroyed during processing;
freeze drying is the most effective way to preserve the herb's healing
properties. A fully potent product will create a tingling sensation
on the tongue. Important compounds are missed if this sensation is
No known side effects have been reported other than with high doses
nausea and dizziness may occasionally occur.
Persons with anemia or vertigo should avoid using echinacea.