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Plant Family: 

Echinacea belongs to the plant family Asteraceae, this would tell us that this is a wide spread plant and falls into the aster, daisy, composite, sunflower family.  The Asteraceae family is one of the largest angiosperm plant families rich in first aid plants, which echinacea demonstrates well. 


The common species of Echinacea that are used medicinally are:

Echinacea angustifolia - narrow-leaved coneflower

Echinacea pallida - pale purple coneflower

Echinacea purpurea - purple coneflower, eastern purple coneflower


Habitat & Cultivation: 

Echinacea typically grows in the prairies and well-drained wooded area (the Midwest/Great Plains). It grows in full sun or partial shade, and prefers fertile, well-drained, high-lime loam (soil of clay and sand).


Parts Used/Collection: 

Root: As hydroethanolic extract or hydroethanolic extract (tincture). Helpful for acute stage of infections. Immunostimulating: increases inflammatory response, prepares initial immune response. Roots can take a long time before they can be harvested, about 3 years of growth (Buhner, 2012). The root are best harvested in the fall, when the leave are brownish color.


Aerial parts: Water extracts, infusions and decoctions. Hydroethanolic extracts also effective as immunostimulant. Immunomodulating: Modifies and regulates immune function. Decrease when overactive and increase when deficient.  Aerial Parts. The flower part of the plant can be harvested during any season.

Herbal Actions: 

  • immunomodulator

  • anti-catarrhal

  • alterative

  • General tonic

  • immuno-stimulator

  • antimicobial (antibacterial & antiviral)

  • anti-inflammatory

  • diaphoretic

  • detoxifer

  • peripheral vasodilator

  • Mild lymphatic stimulant



Echinacea is “indicated primarily for the prevention and treatment of acute infections, particularly colds, influenza, and other acute respiratory tract infections, in which it reduces both the duration and severity of symptoms” (Hoffman, 2003, p. 545).


It has been used to treat variety of both bacterial and viral infections, including boils, sepsis, upper respiratory tract infections, tonsillitis, as a mouthwash for gingivitis, or applied topically to sores and cuts (Hoffman, 2003).

Postpartum indications for internal use of root: infections, esp mastitis, perineal infections, uterine infections, URI.   Indications for internal use of aerial parts: frequent infections, immune dysfunction



Echinacea is contraindicated for immunocompromised people or people on immunosuppressant medication. Those with severe seasonal or pollen allergies may be at greater risk for an allergic reaction to the aerial parts of Echinacea (Mills & Bone, 2005).


Plant Constituents: 



System Affinities:

The system affinities for Echinacea include: Lungs (respiratory), liver and stomach (Digestive), Immune



Echinacea is stimulating and active. By that I mean that it helps move the process of our immune response forward and redistributes energy. Echinacea also acts by cooling down and drying wounds, infections, and inflammation.


So hot, stagnant constitutions would benefit (infection).

Cool, dry constitutions would not benefit (so maybe someone who is susceptible to dry, cold skin may feel those qualities are exasperated? Or even dry, cool emotions, like loneliness.)  



Safety Class: 1

Interaction Class: A

Contradictions: none known

Side Effects: Allergic reactions

There is limited human data on echinacea; there is no indication of any safety concerns



Personal Experience:

I love having echinacea as a tea, we also take the supplements regularly to boost our immune system. I love the way it makes my body and mind refreshed.  I have noticed it shortening any viruses or bacterial infections that my family has



Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.


Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. 


Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health. St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.


Weed, S. (1986). Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)

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