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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Echinacea


Echinacea angustifolia rhizome was used by North American Indians. Echinacea was one of the basic antimicrobial herbs of Eclectic medicine and dates back to mid 1800s. The plant is attributed with the capacity to rejuvenate the body's immune system and keep infections at bay, especially the common cold. Herbal medicines are prepared from the root or other parts. The herb resembles a spiny hedgehog with its prickly scales on its conical seed head.

This herb has been used therapeutically as a defence mechanism booster, preventing cold and other infections and as an antibiotic. It raises the synthesis of white blood cells, and improvises the lymph glands. The tea decoction made from Echinacea is used for infections and for treating skin cancers

Similar to most crude drugs from plant or animal origin, the constituent base is complex and some parts may have a bacteriostatic action, while others work at triggering parts of the immune system. All species possess compounds of chemical called phenols. Cichoric and caftaric acids are the phenols present in E. purpurea; echinacoside is a phenol found in E. angustifolia and E. pallida roots. These phenols serve as an indicator to assess the quantity of echinacea in the product. Other components of importance are alcamides and polysaccharides.

Echinacea is used for the past 400 years in the treatment of infections and wound healing, treatment of scarlet fever, syphilis, blood poisoning, malaria and diphtheria. It contains several chemicals that play a role in its therapeutic effects. These include glycoproteins, polysaccharides, volatile oils, alkamides, and flavonoids.

The roots have high concentrations of volatile oils with a pleasant odor, while the above-ground parts of the plant tend to contain more polysaccharides (substances known to trigger the activity of the immune system).The therapeutic effect of Echinacea is attributed to these polysaccharides.

Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea are the three commonly seen species of Echinacea, possessing therapeutic effects. For general immune system stimulation, during colds, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, or bladder infections, choose from the following forms and take three times a day: Oil and resin both in wood and bark and masses of inuloid, inulin, vulose, betaine, sucrose, two phytosterols and fatty acids, cerotic, linolic, oleic and palmatic.

Echinacea is used in the treatment of diseases related to blood impurities, erysipelas, septicaemia, boils, cancer and syphilis and is a natural antiseptic. It is also utilized as an ingredient to improve sexual desire. The Echinacea extract is injected intradermally for piles. A decoction of the fresh Echinacea root has been found helpful against diphtheria and putrid fevers.

Submitted on January 16, 2014