Names: Purple Coneflower
Habitat: Throughout North American prairies, plains, and open
Part Used: The root.
Note: Sesquiterpene esters which were originally identified in
commercial samples of E. purpurea have since been shown to be due to the
presence of an adulterant, Parthenium integrifolium L. (American
Feverfew). It appears that this adulteration may be widespread in commercial
- Echinacoside, in E. angustifolia but not E.
purpurea.Research suggests that the echinacosides glycosides appear to be
primary anti-microbial constituents in Echinacea. However there are many
other biologically active substances present, and there is evidence that they
work synergistically. The polysaccharides, for example, possess the best immune
stimulating properties and are also antiviral.
- Unsaturated isobutyl amides, echinacin and others, in E. angustifolia
and E. pallida.
- Polysaccharides; a heteroxylan and an arabinorhamnogalactan
- Polyacetylenes, at least 13 of which have been isolated. It has been
postulated that these are artifacts formed during storage, since they are found
in dried but not fresh roots of E. pallida.
- Essential oil, containing humulene, caryophyllene and its epoxide,
germacrene D and methyl-p-hydroxycinnamate
- Miscellaneous; vanillin linolenic acid derivatives, a labdane derivative,
alkanes and flavonoids and the alkaloids tussilagine and isotussilagine.
Actions: Anti-microbial, immunomodulator, anti-catarrhal, alterative.
Indications: Echinacea is one of the primary remedies for
helping the body rid itself of microbial infections. It is often effective
against both bacterial and viral attacks, and may be used in conditions such as
boils, septicaemia and similar infections. In conjunction with other herbs it
may be used for any infection anywhere in the body. For example in combination
with Yarrow or Bearberry it will effectively stop cystitis. It is especially
useful for infections of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis,
tonsillitis and for catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinus. In general it
may be used widely and safely. The tincture or decoction may be used as a
mouthwash in the treatment of pyorrhoea and gingivitis. It may be used as an
external lotion to help septic sores and cuts. Much research is focussing upon
this plant, providing important insights into its activity and potential uses.
Glycosides from the roots have mild activity against Streptococci and
Staphylococcus aureus. Echinacoside was the most active with about 6 mg
being equivalent to one unit of penicillin. The tincture was able to reduce
both the rate of growth and the rate of reproduction of Trichomonas
vaginalis, and was found to be effective in halting the recurrence of
Candida albicans infection. It seems to prevent infection and repair
tissue damaged by infection, partially through inhibiting the activity of the
enzyme hyaluronidase. The hyaluronidase system is a primary defense
mechanism, involving connective "ground" substance, or hyaluronic acid, acting
as a barrier against pathogenic organisms. Some pathogens activate an enzyme,
hyaluronidase, which once activated destroys the integrity of the ground
substance. This causes the barrier to become leaky, allowing pathogens to
invade, attach themselves to exposed cells, penetrate the membrane and kill the
cell. The result as an inflammatory infection. Echinacea inhibits the
action of hyaluronidase by bonding with it in some way, resulting in a
temporary increase in the integrity of the barrier. Fewer pathogens are able to
stimulate the destruction of the ground substance. A range of constituents
mediate this process, especially a complex polysaccharide called echinacin B.
This anti-hyaluronidase action is involved in regeneration of connective tissue
destroyed during infection and in the elimination of pathogenic organisms
creating the infection. Purified polysaccharides prepared from Echinacea
possess a strong activating force on the body's macrophage-mediated defense
system. These macrophages initiate the destruction of pathogens and cancer
cells. Echinacea activates macrophages by itself, independent of any
effect with T-cells. A tumor-inhibiting principle has been found, a oncolytic
lipid-soluble hydrocarbon from the essential oil. The echinacosides glycosides
appear to be the primary `antibiotics', but there are many other active
substances present which probably function synergistically. The polysaccharides
possess the best immune stimulating properties and are also antiviral. Other
constituents have been shown to possess good anti-tumor, bacteriostatic, and