Thanks to the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy for the use of this article!
Andrea Jones and Arlen Rash
Purple cone flower
Purple Kansas cone
Missouri Snake Root
Location and Plant Description:
Native to Midwestern United States from Saskatchewan to Texas. The petals
of the plant either droop toward the stem or spread outward from the stem.
Typically 2 - 5 feet in height depending on the species.
Echinacea Purpurea: Usual height is 5 feet and it has large flowers
with petals drooping toward the stem. The plant grows in rocky open woods
and it is found in NE Texas, Missouri, and Michigan.
Echinacea Pallida: The usual height is 3 feet and it has large flowers
with petals drooping toward the stem. The plant grows on rocky open sites
from NE Texas to SW Wisconsin.
Echinacea Angustifolia: The usual height is 2 feet and it is a smaller
more delicate plant with petals that spread out from the stem and do not
droop. The plant grows on dry uplands from the Rocky Mountains from Texas
to Montana and Saskatchewan to eastern Oklahoma.
Planting and Harvesting:
Planting usually occurs from October to March. It takes at least 3 years
for the root to mature. Harvesting occurs from October to November when flowering
has ceased. Parts that possess medicinal value are the rhizome and root.
-polysaccharides, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives, akylamines, essential
-resins, glycoproteins sterols, minerals, fatty acids
History and Folk Use:
Great Plains Native Americans
-Uses: sore mouth and gums, coughs, dyspepsia, colic, colds, bowels, tonsillitis,
-Physician from Pawnee, Nebraska introduced Echinacea as "Meyer's Blood
Purifier." He claimed it was useful for treating: rheumatism, migraine, sore
eyes, strep infections, wounds, tumors, eczema, dizziness, rattlesnake bites,
gangrene, malaria, and bee stings.
John King and John Uri Lloyd introduced Echinacea to the medical
Echinacea was part of the National Formulary from 1916-1950.
Inulin: activates the alternative complement pathway by increasing
granulocyte and leukocyte counts. It promotes chemotaxis of monocytes and
neutralizes viruses and causes bacteriolysis.
Polysaccharide: binds to carbohydrate receptors on the surface of
T-lymphocytes and macrophages to produce immunostimulatory effects. They
also enhance macrophage phagocytosis and stimulate macrophages to produce
increased amounts of tumor necrosis factor, interferon and interleukin 1.
It also destroys tumor cells.
Alkylamines and caffeic acid derivatives: lipophilic alkylamines enhance
Echinacea: promotes non-specific T-cell activation, production of
interferon and secretion of lymphokines. Shown to lower T-helper cells and
decrease the T-helper:suppressor cell ratio
Other important pharmacologic effects:
Tissue regeneration and anti-inflammatory properties:
Echinacea and polysaccharide inhibits hyaluronidase
Echinacea stimulates fibroblast growth and manufacture of glucosaminoglycans
Exerts cortisone-like effects and enhances secretion of adrenal cortex hormones
Polysaccharide appears to be responsible for anti-inflammatory effects
Mild antibacterial action due to echinacoside and caffeic acid derivative
Echinacea inhibits influenza, herpes and vesicular stomatitis viruses
Antiviral activity due to hyaluronidase inhibition
May block viral receptors on the cell surface
Infections: influenza, colds, urogential infections, upper respiratory infections
Wound healing: treatment of abscesses, folliculitis, herpes
No apparent danger from acute or chronic use.
Low-grade fever may result if given IV.
No known drug interactions and no known disease interactions.
Dosage and Dosage Forms Available (TID dosing):
Dried root (or as tea) 0.5-1g
Freeze-dried plant 325-650mg
Juice of aerial portion of E. purpurea 1-2ml
Fluid extract 1-2ml
Solid extract 100-250mg
Appears to be a period of initial stimulation (1-7 days) followed by a period
of immune unresponsiveness (usually past 11 days).
Usually only prescribed for 10 days followed by 2 weeks of rest.
Extra strength tincture (50-100ml): $9.50-18.50
Echinacea tea (65g): $3.75-4.00
Treatment of Recurrent Candidiasis with Echinacin: Rate of Recurrence at
6 Months (Coeuginet and Kuhnast 1986)
# of Patients
Top. Econazole alone
Top. Ezole + SQ Echinacin
Top. Ezole + IM Echinacin
Top. Ezole + IV Echinacin
Top. Ezole + PO Echinacin
The study demonstrated that Echinacin increased the efficacy of econazole
and decreased the recurrence rate of infection at 6 months. They used
standardized skin tests to show that the enhancement was due to Echinacea's
boosting of cell-mediated immunity.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (Schoneberger 1992)
The effect of Echinacin on chronic upper respiratory tract infection was
studied in 108 human volunteers with 3 or more occurrences of otitis, rhinitis,
tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinusitis
in a half year. The patients were given about 2x4ml/day of echinacin for
Results: When Echinacin was compared to the placebo group, 36% fewer patient
suffered from infections in the Echinacin group. Also the severity of symptoms
were lessened, the time between infection was lengthened, and duration of
infection was shortened.
Burton Goldberg Group. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide.
Washington: Future Medicine Publishing, Inc. 1994. Pg 263.
Hobbs C. "Echinacea: A Literature Review Botany, History, Chemistry,
Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Clinical Uses." HerbalGram: 30: 33-47,
Marti J and A Hine. The Alternative Health and Medicine Encyclopedia.
Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc. 1995. Pgs 90-91.
Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine.
New York: Penguin Books. 1991. Pgs 487-491.
Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.
1996. Pgs 92-105.
Pissordno JE and MT Murray. A Textbook of Natural Medicine: Echinacea.
Bothell, WA: Bastyr University Publications, Vol. 1, 1996.
Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Uses of Phytomedicinals.
New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994. Pgs 182-184.