Echinacea: An Herb for Immunity & Beyond
Echinacea, also known as Coneflower, is an herb most of us are familiar with. This perennial is native to the central and southeastern United States, thriving in prairies, meadows and open woods. It’s an alterative herb, which means it primarily supports our blood and lymphatic systems. Echinacea helps clear out toxins and purify tissues, making it a popular herb for cold and flu prevention.
This is an excellent herbal ally for immunity and beyond, with a rich history of use since time immemorial.
This herb was given its Latin name in the 18th century by German botanist, Conrad Moench. Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos, or “hedgehog”. The spiny, round seed head of the flower reminded Moench of a hedgehog‘s prickly coat.
Indigenous cultures across North America associate Coneflower with elk. Some of them call it Elk Root, due to the belief that wounded elk seek it out as medicine (1).
Coneflower roots are considered traditional healing herbs by Indigenous cultures, especially for peoples of the Great Plains and Midwestern regions of the United States. It’s sought out to treat swelling, burns, and general pain. Coneflower is also chewed ritually during sweat lodge ceremonies and the Sundance¹.
Settlers learned about the medicinal properties of Echinacea from the Indigenous peoples. They paid special attention to its ability to soothe cold and flu symptoms. They took the flower to Europe in the 17th century but had a hard time getting the medical community to understand its benefits at first².
Between 1830-1930, a group of doctors called American Eclectics promoted Echinacea as a blood purifier, an anti-inflammatory, and a treatment for malaria. This helped bring it to the forefront of herbal medicine at that time. It became less popular once antibiotics hit the scene. However, the herb saw a revival in the 1970’s and 80’s when many became interested in natural medicine once again³.
What the Research Says
Echinacea is shown to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold and flu when taken at the onset of symptoms⁴. Several studies indicate that this herbal ally stimulates the function of white blood cells. It also contains immune system stimulant properties⁵.
Wound and infection treatment are effective uses of Echinacea. It features alkamides and caffeic acid, which are potent anti-inflammatory agents. Alcohol extracts of Echinacea, such as tinctures, inhibit the production of inflammatory mediators. This means it can stop inflammation in its tracks⁵.
A double-blind placebo study done in 2019 concluded that Echinacea extract can help reduce anxiety. Participants were given either 40mg of Echinacea angustifolia root extract twice daily for seven days, or a placebo. Those taking Echinacea saw a significant decrease in their state anxiety scores, and this effect lasted for 3 weeks after the trial ended⁶.
Our Echinacea Offerings
We love the benefits Echinacea has to offer and include it in several of our formulations.
Our Defense Artisan Tea features Echinacea, Elderberry and Astragalus. This blend is formulated to provide comforting herbal support during the winter season.
Single Herb Tinctures
Find dried Organic Echinacea Purpurea Root in our Botanical Dispensary.
Visit our Youtube Channel to access webinars that share an abundance of information on some of our favourite herbs and how to use them.
- Foster, S. (1985). Echinacea exalted!: The botany, culture, history and medicinal uses of the purple coneflowers. Ozark Beneficial Plant Project.
- Lloyd, J. U. (1904). HISTORY OF ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA. American Journal of Pharmacy, 76. https://www.proquest.com/openview/584a2c9e11063c51470c20160b5114b8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41445
- Binns, S. E., Arnason, J. T., & Baum, B. R. (2004). Echinacea: Taxonomic History and Revision of the Genus Echinacea. CRC Press.
- Block, K. I., & Mead, M. N. (2003). Immune System Effects of Echinacea, Ginseng, and Astragalus: A Review. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2(3), 247–267. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735403256419
- Kumar, K. M., & Ramaiah, S. (2011). Pharmacological Importance of Echinacea Purpurea. International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, 2(4).
- Haller, J., Krecsak, L., & Zámbori, J. (2019). Double‐blind placebo controlled trial of the anxiolytic effects of a standardized Echinacea extract. Phytotherapy Research, 34(3), 660–668. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6558