Augustfolia, E. Purpurea, E. Pallida
Names: Purple Coneflower
The beauty of Echinacea is equal its value medicinally. The intense purple rosy and
daisy-like flowers outshine most flowers in the herb garden. Even the Monarch butterflies
find it attractive. This perennial plant's natural habitats are the prairies and dry
plains of North America, mainly in the U.S.A., from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba,
down into Texas.
With today' attention on immune deficiency diseases, this is one herb we cannot overlook.
Research in Europe indicates that Echinacea does stimulate the immune system. This occurs
when the polysaccharides present in the plant, (complex carbohydrates which convert into
sugars), stimulate the T cell lymphocytes, which in turn increases the production of
interferon. This interferon activity protects cells against viral and bacterial
infections. One polysaccharide named echinacin B has been isolated from E. angustifolia
& E. purpurea and its effect is healing for inflammations, wounds and swellings.
The most common
species of purple coneflowers are E. agustifolia, E. purpurea and E. pallida. E.
angustifolia is in most demand medicinally though the other two mentioned species are just
as effective when properly prepared. Below is a brief botanical description of the three
E. angustifolia -
is smaller and delicate, grows to 2 ft. Leaves are lanceolate with smooth margins. Flower
petals do not droop but spread outward from the seed-head.
E. purpurea - grows
to 5 ft. A robust plant with many ovate leaves. Leaf margins are toothed. Flowers are
large with petals drooping towards the stem.
E. pallida - grows
to 3 ft. Leaves are lanceolate with smooth margins. The color of the flowers vary from
purple to white and are drooping.
The part of the
plant used in herbal preparations is traditionally the root. When eating the fresh root an
unusual tingling, numbing sensation occurs in the mouth and increases saliva flow. This
anesthetic-like effect is also present in the seeds when sprouted. It is a good indicator
as to how fresh the Echinacea preparation is.
contains an essential oil which has been tested in the treatment of tumors. One case
history involves a strong reaction to mosquito and black-fly bites. Symptoms are abnormal
skin swellings and swollen lymph nodes. Echinacea taken internally reduced the swellings.
history involves the Epstein-Barr virus, (a herpes-like virus). Ingestion of Echinacea
over a period of time, along with dietary changes, improved the vitality of the immune
system. Energy level increased along with an improved resistance to minor colds and flu.
The Native Indians used Echinacea for snake bites. They were aware of Echinacea's blood
cleansing properties and also used the plant for cancers and infections.
Echinacea is most
effective when used in its fresh state. If you are buying dried roots chew a piece first,
if there is no numbing sensation in the mouth then the roots are old or improperly dried.
E. angustifolia dries well, though reports indicate that this species is sometimes
substituted with E. purpurea or E. pallida and sold as E. angustifolia. The roots are best
harvested in fall. Being a native plant this is one instance where we do not have to rely
on importation and we should encourage the local herb farming of this species, (although
it does take at least 3 years for the roots to mature and make it worthwhile digging up
Dosage of Echinacea
tincture is up to 30 drops, 3 times a day for adults depending on the seriousness of the
ailment. The tincture is usually taken for the duration of the illness, but of course
there is a saying that you can take too much of a good thing, and this is true with
Echinacea. For example if you drink coffee every day the pick me up effect will eventually
over stimulate you or will cease to work. Do not ingest Echinacea continuously over a long
period of time, give your body a periodic rest from the immune stimulation.
The only observed
side effect from ingesting Echinacea is nausea, although this is rare. It usually
indicates that the body is full of toxins, so decrease your intake of the herb.
This Article is
taken from The Herbalist, newsletter of the Botanic Medicine Society. COPYRIGHT Dec 1988.
Membership in the Society is $25.00 Canadian per year. You receive four copies of the
Journal each year and help to promote herbalism and botanic medicine throughout Canada.
THE SOCIETY HAS
NO PAID OFFICIALS and is run entirely by volunteers from among the membership. If you
would like more info please write: Botanic Medicine Society. * P.O. Box 82.
* Willowdale, Ont. CANADA. M2N 5S7.
Copyright 1996, 1998 by The Herbalist, Lori Herron, R.N.and Alternative Nature
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