Echinacea is the name of a genus of flowering plants in the daisy family. They are native to North America where they grow in prairies and open, wooded areas . The word “echinacea” comes from the Greek word “echinos”, which means “sea urchin” or “hedgehog”. It has probably got this name from the prickly spikes found on the flower head. Echinacea purpurea has a long history of medicinal use for a variety of conditions, particularly infections, and today echinacea products are among the best-selling herbal preparations in several countries in the world.
Here at Nature’s Laboratory produce various products using Echinacea purpurea plant parts such as, Echinacea purpurea organic root tincture, root fluid extract, root cut and capsules.
Echinacea purpurea (L.) (purple coneflower), a perennial herbaceous flowering plant is the most popular variety of echinacea used in Western countries , belonging to the Asteraceae (Compositae) family.
Background and Uses of Echinacea purpurea
An extensive literature survey revealed that Echinacea purpurea has a long history of traditional use for a wide range of diseases particularly colds and other respiratory tract infections, in addition to simulating the immune system. Many traditional uses of echinacea have been validated by scientific research. It is one of the most important herbal medicine species, containing a huge number of phytochemical compounds within it and possessing several pharmacological properties.
Echinacea plants are resilient and drought resistant, but they grow slowly . The plant is either glaucous (waxy) and smooth, or sometimes hairy, usually with coarse hairs. The leaves are petiolate (stalked) below, becoming sessile (stalkless) and smaller above, and are prominently 3-5 veined, either ovate, lanceolate, elliptical, and coarsely toothed or entire. The Echinacea genus is characterized by spiny flowering heads, with an elevated receptacle which forms the “cone”. The roots are cylindrical, brownish grey on the exterior and white on the interior . Stems are erect, stout, branched, hirsute or glabrous (smooth) 60– 180 cm high: basal leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute, coarsely, or sharply serrate. The aerial stem is branching and has rough hairs and reddish-brown patches, giving it the appearance of a bush. It produces a rosette of leaves during the first year of cultivation and blooms only in the second year .
It is generally thought that no single constituent or group of constituents is responsible for the activities of echinacea. Rather, several groups of constituents (the alkamides, caffeic acid derivatives, polysaccharides, and alkenes (such as polyenes) appear to contribute to activity. Aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea contain alkamides; caffeic acid esters, mainly cichoric acid; polysaccharides; polyacetylenes, whereas echinacoside is not present. Aerial parts of echinacea have also been reported to contain a phenolic acid called caftaric acid . Echinacoside is a main phenolic compound, but the fact that it is not present does not affect the activity of Echinacea. The volatile oil from the aerial parts of E. purpurea contains borneol, bornyl acetate, germacrene D, caryophyllene and other components.
Cold and Flu Relief
Echinacea purpurea is taken orally used as an antiviral, and immunostimulant. It is commonly used for the prevention of colds and other respiratory tract infections. It is frequently found in combination preparations with other vitamins, herbs, and minerals.
There are multiple reports indicating immunological effects of a wide range of echinacea preparations, comprising different species, plant parts and types of extract. Echinacea purpurea appeared to activate non‐specific cellular and humoral immunity and complement the immune system. The species was found to stimulate the immune system by means of increasing the production and activation of leukocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes, and cytokines.
Reports describe that aqueous fraction of the stems, leaves, and flowers of Echinacea purpurea possess potent anti‐viral activity against herpes simplex virus and influenza virus. This activity was found to be attributed to the polysaccharide and cichoric acid components. Research carried out in vitro and clinical studies suggest that medicines containing Echinacea purpurea can effectively protect against infections with a variety of respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses.
Echinacea purpurea root is a natural source of antioxidants. Chicoric acid is the most abundant phenolic component in the root and petiole of E. purpurea. These antioxidant and antibacterial compounds can help the immunological system of the body to function better.
In addition to well-known widespread use of echinacea in reducing the symptoms of colds and flu, Echinacea is traditionally employed to treat fungal and bacterial infections. However, to date the mechanism of antimicrobial activity of Echinacea extracts has not been reported clearly. Echinacea purpurea extract was screened by an agar well-diffusion method against many microorganisms: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus niger. The results showed that the extract showed a considerable growth inhibition on Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae while no growth inhibition zones were observed only for Aspergillus niger.
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