The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Medicinal Herb Monographs

Purple Coneflower/Echinacea

Botanical Name 
Echinacea purpurea
Echinacea angustifolia

Echinacea

Echinacea
(Purple Cone Flower)

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
Index
(click on the keywords)

Introduction

Echinacea species have a long history of use by native Americans as an antiseptic, analgesic and snake bite remedy. The two main species used are purpurea and angustifolia, pallida is also used. The Eclectic physicians introduced Echinacea into American medicine in 1885 as a blood purifier. It was found to be very effective for abscesses, indolent ulcers, and sepsis. Echinacea has been extensively studied in Europe, demonstrating anti-viral, immune modulation and wound healing effects.

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Description

  • A member of the compositae family, Echinacea is perennial herb native to Midwestern North America, from Saskatchewan to Texas. It has a beautiful pink-purple daisy like flower with a center cone, hence its common name, purple cone flower. Echinacea purpurea is an easily cultivated plant and has such lovely flowers making it a welcome addition to the flower garden. All parts of the Echinacea plant are used including flowers, leaves, stems, roots and seeds.


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Constituents

  • Polysaccharides
  • Inulin
  • Flavonoids- in leaves and stems
  • Alkamides
  • Caffeic acid derivatives
  • Glyco-proteins- in roots
  • Polyynes- in roots
  • Volatile oils


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Action/Effects

  • Immune modulation
  • Anti viral
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Inhibits hyaluronidase
  • Promotes would healing
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Conditions used for

  • Impaired immune system function such as recurrent colds and flu and recurrent ear infections (1, 2)
  • Viral infections, especially colds, influenza and herpes (3,4,5,6)
  • Recurrent yeast infections (7)
  • Bacterial infections (8)
  • Wounds and abscesses (8)
  • Inflammation (8)


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Dosage

  • For acute conditions-
  • Liquid extract- 1 teaspoon every 3-4 hours
  • Dry extract (10:1)-125 mg every 3-4 hours
  • Dry - 500 mg every 3-4 hours
  • For chronic infections/impaired immune function-
  • Liquid extract- 1/2-1 teaspoon 1-3 times a day
  • Dry extract (10:1) 75-125 mg 1-3 times a day
  • Dry- 250-500 mg 1-3 times a day
  • For wounds-
  • Apply compresses soaked with extract to the wound every 2-6 hours
  • Take internally as for acute infections
  • Childrenís dosage- Multiply adult dosage times the childís weight, then divide by 150.


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Side Effects

None known
Virtually non-toxic (9)

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Contraindications

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Progressive diseases like tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, leukoses, collagenoses
  • Psoriasis
  • Allergy to flowers of the daisy family (10)
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Interactions with medications

  • Donít use with hepatotoxic medications like anabolic steroids, methotrexate and ketoconazole
  • May decrease the action of immunosuppressants like corticosteroids and cyclosporin (11)
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Use in pregnancy & lactation

  • Safe for use in pregnancy and lactation
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References

1. Rehman J, et al, Increased production of antigen-specific immunoglobulins G & M following in vivo treatment with the medicinal plants Echinacea angustifolia and Hydrastis canadensis, Immunol Lett, 1999;68(2-3):391-5
2. Erhard M et al, Effect of Echinacea.....on Phagocytosis of Human Granulocytes, Phytother Res 1994;8:14-7
3. Brinkeborn RM et al, Echinoforce and other Echinacea fresh plant preparations in th treatment of the common cold, Phytomedicine 1999;6(1):1-6
4. Schoenberger D, The influence of immune-stimulating effects of pressed juice from Echinacea purpurea on the course and severity of colds, Forum Immunol 1992;8:2-12
5. Wacker A et al, Virus inhibition by Echinacea purpurea, Planta Medica 1978;33:89-102
6. Braunig R et al, Echinacea purpurea root for strengthening the immune response in flu-like infections, Z Phytother 1992;13:7-13
7. Coeugniet E et al, Recurrent candidiasis: adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacin, Therapiewoche 1986;36:3352-58
8. PDR for Herbal Medicines, Medical Economics Co, NJ, 1998: 818-19
9. Mengs U, Toxicity of Echinacea purpurea, Arzneimittelforschung 1991;41(10):1076-81
10. Mullins RJ, Echinacea-associated anaphylaxis, Med J Aust 1998;168(4):170-1
11. Miller LG, Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions, Arch Intern Med 1998;158(20):2200-11


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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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