Echinacea - Echinacea Purpurea And Angustifolia

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This Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea/angustifolia) monograph is an excerpt from the first edition of Dr. Sharol's book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth." You can purchase the 2020, third edition of this book with an expanded materia medica/monograph section, herbal formulas and directions on making herbal products in Dr. Sharol's Book Store. You receive free shipping in the USA.

Echinacea - Echinacea spp. in the Asteraceae or Aster family

Parts used: Root mostly, seeds and flowers also.

Taste/smell: Root is slightly sweet, pungent, aromatic, tingles the tongue with most species.

Tendencies: Cooling, drying, stimulating.

Dosage: Infusion: 1/2 - 1 teaspoon per cup of water; or 1:1 fresh +

dry liquid extract: 10-75 drops 1-4 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Echinacea is indicated for exhaustive states with chilliness, offensive discharges, lymphatic congestion with swollen glands, mental confusion, dull mind, dizziness, tendency to skin eruptions and low grade continuous fevers, although they can be high grade fevers.

Use: (a) Antimicrobial, (b) Anti-inflammatory, (c) Antiviral, (d) Antibacterial, (e) Antifungal, (f) Slight stimulation of the adrenal cortex, (g) Stimulates leukocytes, (h) Inhibits hyaluronidase, (i) Enhances phagocytosis.

Note: Clinical information for E. angustifolia and E. purpurea species is basically interchangeable in most circumstances. Contrary to what I have heard some herbalists say, Echinacea purpurea is as good as angustifolia if both are fresh. The issue is when they are dried and sitting on the shelf for a while. The E. angustifolia will last much longer on the shelf than E. purpurea will.

Echinacea protects the gut from harmful micro-organisms due to its enhancement of phagocytosis. It also decreases inflammatory allergic reactions in mild food reactions and stimulates gastric healing. The constituent, echinacin, has been shown to be useful in treatment of tonsillitis in pediatric practices. Due to its specificity for infectious conditions, it is used for colds, influenza, wounds, infections, allergies, bacterial and viral disease, swollen glands and gum disease.

I use this plant for serious infectious disease, but at high doses for short periods of time to get past the first few days. As soon as the infection is getting better, I lower the dose.

The plant contains 3 groups of constituents, high molecular weight polysaccharides, alkylamides and chicoric acid, that are known to act as immunomodulators.

Contraindications: Echinacea is not usually associated with acute or chronic toxicity. There have been long term studies with continuous ingestion of different Echinacea preparations up to 6 months with no reported toxicological concerns. However, some studies reported a variety of symptoms such as abdominal pain, angioedema, shortness of breath, itchiness, rash, red skin and hives. (sounds like an allergic reaction) I have used this herb a lot and have seen no serious reactions with it in myself or others except in exacerbation of Lupus symptoms. For most people with reactions, there have been minor irritations that are reversed when the person stops taking the herb. It is possible these reactions would have become more severe if the individuals had not discontinued the treatment immediately. There have been case reports from other practitioners who have seen reactions in people with a variety of auto-immune diseases. This includes lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and others. However there are also physicians who have used it with patients who have auto-immune diseases without noticing side effects. There have also been beneficial effects reported in some cases of autoimmune diseases.  To be safe, you may not want to use this herb with people who have autoimmune disease, or at least be cautious about using it until more is known about Echinacea’s use in individuals with autoimmune disease. Due to arabinogalactan’s ability to increase production of TNF-alpha, there is concern about AIDS patients taking Echinacea. Many clinicians give whole plant, tincture based extracts that contain little or no arabinogalactan to AIDS patients without seeing negative reactions. Echinacea has been shown to both inhibit and induce the same CYP450 enzymes depending on the research study. So the conclusions on possible drug/herb interactions are far from known.

Echinacea is contraindicated in individuals with an organ transplant as it may cause rejection of the organ.

Hyaluronidase is one of three enzymes  attached to the acrosomal membrane located on the head of the male  spermatozoon. This enzyme clears a path for the sperm to  fertilize the egg. Men taking large amount of  echinacea might experience some infertility, since Echinacea inhibits hyaluronidase activity. However, this has not been studied.

Echinacea angustifolia is endangered and only organic Echinacea angustifolia should be used.

If you are looking for directions on making teas or tinctures, please see our "Making Herbal Products" page.

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Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.

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