Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea are the three echinacea species most frequently used for medical purposes. One, two, or even all three of these species can be found in numerous echinacea preparations. The effectiveness of echinacea can vary between products because various ones use different components of the echinacea plant.
One, two, or all three species of echinacea can be purchased as extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules, and ointments. Additionally, it is offered in mixtures with additional immune-boosting herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
Purchase goods from well-known, established enterprises that work with reliable businesses to distribute their goods. When buying products, look for ones with standardized extracts or products with confirmed potency.
Which Echinacea is the most therapeutic?
The most popular and significant medicinal herbs used by Native Americans in the Great Plains were purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) and other Echinacea species. Many tribal people still collect and use the herb in their traditional ways today. It was discovered by Lewis and Clark during their voyage, and in 1805 they sent the roots and seeds to President Jefferson as one of their more significant discoveries.
The two species that have been heavily taken from natural populations are Echinacea angustifolia, which has short petals, and Echinacea pallida, which has longer petals.
Echinacea was identified by European and American medical botanists as early as 1830. Echinacea angustifolia was made available for use in medicine in “Meyer’s Blood Purifier was created in 1885 by Pawnee City, Nebraska, folk doctor H. C. F. Meyer. The plant was well-established among the Eclectics, a group of doctors who prioritized the use of medicinal herbs in their practice, by the turn of the century, and was commonly utilized by “ordinary physicians. Until the introduction of sulfa medicines and antibiotics in the 1920s, the American plant Echinacea angustifolia was the most commonly recommended treatment.
Since more than 120 years ago, the tall- and midgrass prairie endemic to North America, Echinacea angustifolia, has been commercially gathered for its therapeutic benefits. The roots, leaves, and flowering tops of three of the nine Echinacea species—E. purpurea, E. pallida, and E. angustifolia—are significant in the market for contemporary herbal medicines even though all Echinacea have some medicinal properties.
Over the past 120 years, prices have been paid to anyone who dig up wild Echinacea angustifolia roots in the Smoky Hill region of Kansas.
Consumers in North America and Europe have started to favor echinacea extracts, tinctures, and pills as immune boosters. The identity of the particular substances that underlie the biological functions of Echinacea species has been hotly contested. Alkamides, caffeic acid derivatives, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides are only a few of the many chemical components of echinacea that have been identified; these are probably what give it its immunostimulatory effects. Its usage as a therapy for upper respiratory tract infections, including the flu, has shown promising results in clinical trials. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many clinical investigations to determine the precise and efficient dosage of echinacea. Clinical research has demonstrated that Echinacea is one of the safest herbal products on the market, with only a very low risk of allergic reaction or negative interactions with other drugs, in addition to its extended history of safe use among North American indigenous populations.
In some regions, overharvesting of Echinacea at-risk wild populations, especially uncommon species, can raise sustainability concerns, especially when the market price is high and there are limited alternative local economic opportunities. Unauthorized poachers seeking to profit from a peak market price can swiftly turn public resources like state parks and U.S. Forest Service sites into top targets. The price and demand for wild Echinacea have increased as a result of consumers’ frequent preference for foraged goods over farmed therapeutic herbs. Echinacea populations are also under risk from cattle overgrazing and broadleaf herbicide spraying on rangeland. Overharvesting is not the greatest threat to the sustainability of all Echinacea species populations; rather, it is the loss of habitat caused by the conversion of land to agricultural crops or the development of land for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes.
Plants will either perish or suffer severe stunting as a result of the harvesting process because the majority of echinacea is taken for the root. Harvesters tend to target the largest plants with the most flower stalks since they also have the largest roots. The loss of these mature plants also implies a significant loss of seed potential for repopulation in harvest regions, as these giant plants are also the best seed producers. Informal observations by harvesters and academics revealed that a sizable percentage of harvested plants will resprout from leftover root fragments, even if the root was dug relatively deeply.
Resprouted Echinacea angustifolia root from the Smoky Hills in north-central Kansas, with the larger, original root on the right and the joint in the middle with the immediately smaller root on the left attached the leaves. This is where the resprout started growing again, from where it was previously harvested, in this case about three years earlier.
We started a research on Echinacea angustifolia rangeland populations in Kansas and Montana in 2003, harvesting mature plants to a usual harvesting depth of about 6-8 inches. To determine which excavated plants had resprouted, we went back to the identical harvest locations one and two years later. Some of the plants unearthed during our first harvest in 2003 clearly indicated that they were resprouted plants from earlier commercial harvests. After two years, in 2005, we redug all of the resprouted plants from our study area, going deep enough to extract the root below our previous harvest depth, exposing the bigger remnant root beneath our severance point as well as the thin resprouted root.
We have determined that the risk of overharvesting of Echinacea angustifolia ranks only as moderate at this time in collaboration with the United Plant Savers, a non-profit organization devoted to the conservation of medicinal plants; however, ongoing evaluation should continue as market demand changes and habitat loss accelerates. It is possible for populations to endure despite recurring commercial harvesting thanks to the traits of strong seed output and roughly 50% resprouting of harvested plants.
What portion of echinacea is medicinal?
Echinacea, also known as E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida, is a plant related to ragweed and sunflowers. The root, flower, and leaf are all utilized medicinally.
Native to the United States, echinacea species are found east of the Rocky Mountains. It appears that echinacea stimulates bodily processes that reduce inflammation. It might also strengthen the immunological system of the body.
The most typical applications of echinacea are for the treatment of infections and the common cold, although most of these applications lack solid scientific backing. Echinacea use for COVID-19 is likewise not well supported by the available research.
White Echinacea: Is it therapeutic?
- medicinal effect Immunostimulant and antimicrobial
- important elements Alkamides, caffeic acids, polysaccharides, humulene, and
- How to use Freshly milled capsules, tinctures, dried essential oils
- Medical grade (2) Unimportant plant
- Safety score Safe
Health Benefits of Echinacea
The herb echinacea has been used medicinally for a very long time. Although echinacea has historically been given to treat a wide range of medical ailments, research has demonstrated that its greatest benefits are for:
infection treatment The medical benefits of echinacea have been demonstrated to be successful in the treatment of bacterial and viral illnesses, particularly respiratory and urinary tract infections.
improving immunity Immune-stimulating qualities of echinacea help fight off dangerous germs and speed healing.
The health benefits of echinacea have been used traditionally for a variety of purposes over the years, including:
cleaning cuts and scratches. Echinacea’s antibacterial qualities have long been used to clean open wounds and stop infections.
reduces inflammation The anti-inflammatory qualities of echinacea have long been used to treat cough, cold, and irritation of the throat.
How It Works
However, the echinacea herb has been found to contain fat-soluble alkamides, caffeic acid, and polysaccharides, and its volatile oil contains humulene, which in vitro studies have suggested may have anti-inflammatory properties. The precise compounds responsible for the medicinal properties of echinacea are still unknown.
Echinacea appears to have immune-stimulating qualities because to its alkamide content, whereas caffeic acids are naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial.
On the other hand, it is assumed that humulene and alkamides are in charge of echinacea’s capacity to combat diseases.
POLYSACCHARIDES FOUND IN THE PLANT’S ABOVE-GROUND PARTS CAN IMPROVE IMMUNE RESPONSE
Astragalus, cabbage, and noni are further plants that boost immunity, and calendula, garlic, and lime also have antibacterial characteristics.
Echinacea Side Effects
When taken orally, echinacea is probably safe for the majority of people. Even though adverse responses to the herb are rare, there are certain possible side effects to be aware of, including as fever, nauseousness, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, bad taste, headache, dry mouth, dizziness, and joint and muscular discomfort.
Echinacea can also cause allergic responses, thus anyone who are allergic to Asteraceae species like ragweed, mums, or daisies should use caution when consuming this herb.
Echinacea should also be used with caution by those who have auto-immune disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis because doing so can make them worse.
Echinacea is generally safe to consume when pregnant or nursing, but since little study has been done on the plant’s effects, pregnant or nursing women should speak with a doctor before taking the herb in therapeutic doses.
A single flower with 15 to 20 pink to light purple rays (petals) that are each 3/4 to 11/2 inches long and 1/4 to 1/3 inch diameter and have three notched teeth at the tip can be found at the end of a sturdy, hairy stalk. As they mature, rays sag and curve under as they spread out and rise. Large round to conical orangish brown disk in the middle is covered in tiny brown disk flowers that have yellow pollen. Usually, a plant has one to several flowering stalks.
Leaves and stem:
The majority of the leaves are basal, while the bottom part of the stem has stem leaves that are widely spread and alternately attached. Lower leaves have long, narrow, up to 8-inch stalks that are 1/2 to 1 inch wide, and as they climb the stem, they get shorter and lose their stalks. There are three distinct veins along the length, and the edges are toothless. The stems and leaves have rough, hairy surfaces. Stems may have purple or green undertones.
Although it is not a common species in the nursery industry, narrow-leaved purple coneflower is a native of western sandy grassland and is frequently offered by native seed dealers. This plant has similar leaves to Echinaceae pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower), but its ray petals are only about 1/8 inch diameter and up to 3 inches long. According to some references, this plant is a western variant of that plant. Eastern Purple Coneflower (E. purpurea) contains similar flowers to E. angustifolia, but its lanceolate leaves are shorter, broader, and extend all the way up the stem. Only one of these three native coneflowers, E. angustifolia, is indigenous to Minnesota, but the other two thrive here and are frequently sold at native plant markets. The wildflower trade also carries E. tennesseensis, an eastern variety from the central Tennessee forest glades.
What are the two echinacea varieties?
In addition to being widely available in garden centers and seed catalogs, echinacea faces the threat of losing its natural habitat.
One of the most recognizable herbs in use today is this grassland plant. But popularity comes with a price, and in meadows the plant was swiftly removed to supply a booming supplement industry, making it an easy target. Today, a rising number of suppliers are required to maintain echinacea in natural settings and cultivate it sustainably thanks to initiatives like United Plant Savers. Their efforts ensure that this magnificent plant is available to everyone.
Which Echinacea to Use?
Did you know that there is some debate on the best echinacea to use? You may have noticed that the echinacea in your seed catalog comes in a variety of new hues. You may have also observed that your preferred herb seller offers at least two options.
What is the difference between species?
Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea are the two species that are most widely distributed. Both are native to different regions of the United States, but the Native Americans only used Echinacea angustifolia when we first learned about their usage of this plant. They started utilizing Echinacea purpurea instead of Echinacea angustifolia since it was so common in Europe at the time it was introduced to the supplement industry.
Echinacea purpurea is frequently thought to be less potent than Echinacea angustifolia and consequently inferior. Echinacea angustifolia is unquestionably more uncommon, and many people find it a little more challenging to grow. Which one to use is really a matter of interpretation, and there are plenty of herbalists who will support both sides of the debate with convincing proof that they are both effective. My research suggests that we may need to utilize Echinacea purpurea in higher amounts than we would need to use Echinacea angustifolia, at the very least.
Do I Use the Leaf or Root?
You may typically find echinacea’s dried leaf and dried root in herb catalogs. The plant was traditionally utilized for root preparations, but we now know that the compounds needed to strengthen our immune system are present in all plant sections. The ideal approach to make an echinacea tincture is to start with a leaf tincture early in the season, add flower in the summer, and finish with a little root in the fall.
How Is Echinacea Used?
The benefits of both echinacea species are greatest when the body is infected. The entire plant is highly beneficial for conditions including a sore throat with pus-filled areas, which is comparable to strep throat. Conditions involving advanced infection or tissue deterioration benefit greatly from echinacea. It can be applied in situations where the system has been overworked and stressed out in general. The substances in this plant direct our white blood cells to migrate quickly to an area where our body is struggling to fight an illness. This is the reason I don’t suggest using echinacea as an immune system tonic or preventive.
Where to Get Echinacea
If you choose to use echinacea into your teas or tinctures in order to prepare for the winter’s illnesses. Make sure to purchase them from a dependable herb supplier that is protecting native populations, such as Mountain Rose Herbs. You can be confident that, regardless of the species you pick and the plant part you want to use, you will benefit in the event of an illness.
About Dawn Combs
Dawn works as a farmer, a wife, a mother, an author, an ethnobotanist, a public speaker, and an educator. She has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics and more than 20 years of experience in ethnobotany. She is also a licensed herbalist. Co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm is Dawn. Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local are two of her books.
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