August 1, 2016

Echinacea : Echinacea augustifolia, Echinacea purpura, Echinacea pallida, Purple coneflower

It is the season of Echinacea, the purple coneflower native of central and eastern North America. This glorious purple flower has long been used by Native Americans for treating infections and boosting the blood and immune system.

Echinacea works by stimulating proteins that help balance the immune system by increasing T cells and macrophage (killer immune cells) activity. Thereby helping to destroy free radicals and promote antibacterial and antiviral effects of the immune system. Article for details.

A premier herbal medication in the US and abroad before the advent of antibiotics, Echinacea was used for all types of inflammation. Snake bites, skin eruptions, acne, gangrene, poison ivy, sexually transmitted disease, acute bacterial and viral infections have all been treated with Echinacea. It is mild enough to use chronically for fatigue and chemotherapy complications without increasing side effects.

Several studies have been done to determine whether Echinacea prevents or reduces symptoms of the common cold. Some studies have seen benefit and others have not.

Echinacea is in the daisy family and anyone with allergy to daisy, ragweed, or sunflower should not use Echinacea. It is also known to drop Vitamin E stores and should be taken with vitamin E if taken long term. Some prescription medications that are metabolized in the CYP3A4 pathway of the liver may cause interaction side effects and should not be taken with Echinacea.

Echinacea is available in capsules of powdered flowers, leaves, and roots. Tinctures are also made of the whole plant. For acute infections more frequent dosing (every 2 hours) is done initially and then gradually reduced to three times a day after the first 24 hours.

Children over 18 months can use oral tinctures if doses are reduced for size and age. Topical applications can be done by adding tinctures to the bath water or placing on a cotton wrap and applying to the rash area. Contact your provider for dosing.

We use Herbs for kids Deep Immune Support for young children when they are ill with an infectious disease. It has an excellent safety profile and works well.

Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal (2001) Tinctures for itching and skin rash: 2 drops burdock tincture, 1 drop Echinacea tincture, 1 drop valerian tincture every 1-2 hours to help decrease itching and skin rash. These four drops can be given orally or in bathwater.

Happy Herbal Gathering,
Dr. Rose

For more information go to this site.