Species of this herb are native to North America and were traditionally used as remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes. Also known by other names, American Cone Flower, Black Sampson, Black Susans, Brauneria Angustifolia, Brauneria Pallida, Comb Flower, Coneflower, Echinacea Augustifolia, Echinacea Pallida, and Echinacea Purpurea.
The leaves, flower and root of Echinacea are used widely to fight infections, especially the common cold and other upper respiratory infections. Those who use this herb to treat symptoms have the right idea. Research to date shows that echinacea probably modestly reduces the duration and severity of cold symptoms by stimulating the immune system. As it is an immune booster, recommendations suggest only using it short term, 2 – 4 days. Caution should be used for those with auto-immune disease.
Echinacea seems to activate chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms. It also may contain some chemicals that can attack yeast and other kinds of fungi directly.
Commercially available products come in tablet form, juice, and tea.
There are concerns about the quality of some echinacea products on the market. Echinacea products are frequently mislabeled, and some may not even contain the herb, despite label claims. Don’t be fooled by the term “standardized.” It doesn’t necessarily indicate accurate labeling.