Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
Other common names: Purple coneflower, black sampson, elk root, Indian head, hedgehog, pale purple coneflower (E. pallida), Narrow-leaf purple coneflower (E. augustofolia), black susan, red sunflower
*This entry pertains to the three most commonly used echinacea species: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida – which are all used for the same medicinal purposes (with E. angustifolia perhaps being the most popular).
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Antimicrobial, diaphoretic, immune booster, analgesic, alterative, antifungal, astringent, vulnerary.
Echinacea may not be harvested until at least its second year. Leaves and flowers are harvested in summer (preferably just as the flowers are opening), while the roots should be harvested in autumn.
Part used: Root, leaves, flowers (root being the most potent)
Phytosterols, phenols, phenyl propanoid, echinacoside, polysaccharides, flavonoids, alkylamides, copper, iron, tannins, vitamins C and A, and others.
Fever, weakened immune system, cold/flu symptoms (including prevention), respiratory infections, headaches, mild pain, candida, herpes, various bacterial/viral/fungal infections, hemorrhoids, skin conditions, insect bites.
Echinacea (often a combination of all three species) can be used in tinctures, capsules, tea, lozenges and syrups/oxymels.
While more common in internal remedies, echinacea can also be prepared in creams, washes, poultices and salves.
Do not use if pregnant or nursing, and do not give to children without the advice of a doctor. Do not take daily for longer than a month without taking a break (not suitable for long-term regular use in general). May interact with some medications, including immunosuppressant drugs, medications altered by the liver, estrogen treatments, caffeine and others. Talk to your doctor before using if you’re taking any pharmaceuticals or suffering from a serious underlying condition. May cause flare-ups for those with auto-immune conditions. If you suffer from allergies to plants in the daisy/ragweed family, you may also be allergic to echinacea. Topical use may result in a rash.
I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.
Historically, First Nations cultures referred to echinacea as “elk root” because they observed the elk seeking out the root when they were injured or sick.
Echinacea was named after the Greek word echinos, which was used to describe spiny creatures.
Energetically, echinacea boosts strength during struggle, and can be carried to help overcome obstacles. It’s been used for offerings, and also to increase the power of spells or and rituals.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.