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Echinacea; a highly studied medicinal plant; history and key benefits

The genus Echinacea, commonly known as coneflower, is an important medicinal plant worldwide. This plant is found in many different colours and has been popularized and bred into many beautiful varieties from the traditional purple to various shades of pink, orange and yellow. I am sure that you have seen it and you may even have it in your garden!

The Echinacea genus has 9-10 species, three of which we use for ‘medicinal’ purposes. These tend to be purple, pale purple, or yellow. Let that not confuse you with the huge number of varieties that the horticultural industry has created; beautiful shades of red, orange, pink, green or even multi-color.

Echinacea flowers
A field of Echinacea

The three species which are used by herbalists or in the wellness field for their therapeutic uses are Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea angustifolia. Scientific plant denominations include the Genus as the first name (Echinacea) and the species as the second name (ie. purpurea).

Echinacea angustifolia is the variety that was traditionally used broadly across central USA by the Indigenous cultures. It grew wild and was used extensively. Due to loss of habitat and the popularity of its roots for herbal medicine, at one point it was listed a species in danger of extinction. At the beginning of the 20th century, Echinacea was the most frequently used plant preparation in the USA.

Commercial cultivation began in Germany around 1939 with Echinacea purpurea. Most of the scientific articles published today focus on this species. Some of you may recognize the name Vogel from products on your health food store shelves. In 1950, A. Vogel was key to the introduction and cultivation of Echinacea in Switzerland.

At this time, there are hundreds of publications concerning the plant from distinguished universities around the world and the number keeps rising. Universities are intensively studying the well-known medicinal plants in order to obtain the most accurate data and understanding of the chemical composition of these plants. I believe the best use of herbs for therapeutic results includes a balance between historical and energetic use of the plant with modern science.

Key take-aways from the studies which we have today are the following:

This plant is extremely valuable for

  • treating individuals suffering from lengthy chronic infections especially when feeling weak and exhausted.

  • modulating (or balancing) the immune system

  • chronic candida (yeast) infections

  • chronic skin infections associated with inflammation and infection

  • temporary numbing of pain in infected teeth and sore inflamed gums

  • chronic urinary tract and bladder infections

  • safety profile is extremely good

  • it’s value is still being assessed in key fields such as cancer and anxiety

Beautiful, powerful and highly respected Echinacea.

Echinacea is a flower loved by the bees
Echinacea flowers are a favourite of the bees!


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