Echinacea (Zi Zhu Hua)
Botanical Name: Echinacea purpurea, E. Angustifolia, E. Pallida
Echinacea was first used by the American Plains Indians. They used it mainly for its pain-killing properties. The herb is now also famous for its antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to treat herpes, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and digestive issues.
Below is an overview of Echinacea, combining and interpreting the best of Western science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), shamanism, folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Echinacea.
Western Name: Echinacea
Also Known As: Cornflower, Purple Cornflower, Kansas Snakeroot
Organs/Systems: Skin, Sinuses, Immunity
Key Actions: Immunostimulant, Laxative, Alterative, Antimicrobial, Antitumor, Antiviral, Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial
Medicinal Uses: Snake bite, anthrax, common colds, allergies, asthma, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, typhoid, meningitis, malaria, diphtheria, herpes, influenza, mumps, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, infections of the blood, genital herpes, joint pain, lower blood pressure, diabetes. Used topically for snake bites, stings, toothaches, and wounds.
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Lungs, Spleen
Key Actions: Moves and Tonifies Blood, Supports Wei Qi, Clears Toxins, Resolves Tumors, Reduces Inflammation, Relieves Pain, Promotes Tissue Growth, Releases to the Exterior, Clear Wind Heat, Kidney Tonic
Medicinal Uses: Stuffy nose, sinus infections with drippy congestion, headache, fever, colds, flu, coughs, malaria, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, asthma, joint pain, vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, snake bites, cancer, wounds; enlivens lymph-promoting detoxification; builds immunity.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Roots and Rhizomes (said to have more efficacious mixture of active chemicals), Stems, Flowers and Leaves; Flower petals can be used in salads, otherwise not a food plant
Flavors: Mild, Pungent, Salty, Cool and Dry
Caution: No known side effects; considered very safe.
History/Folklore: While best known for helping to fight microbial infections that impact the respiratory system, echinacea is also useful for treating chronic fatigue, genital herpes, rheumatism, and acid indigestion. It has been used to treat tonsillitis, diphtheria, malaria, typhoid, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, and even attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHA).
Echinacea has been used by American Plains Indians for treating sore throat, headache, and as an analgesic, or aid to reducing pain. They observed elk eating the plants when sick or wounded, and identified the plants as “elk root”.
In 1930 a Swiss herbalist heard that American Indians had said echinacea was good for colds, and began marketing echinacea tinctures in the U.S. and Great Britain as a cure for flus and colds.
American Indians also treated snake bites and a wide variety of infections with echinacea. Word continued to spread throughout Europe, and it quickly became the most popular medicinal native plant from the new world.
Today it is a global multimillion-dollar industry. It is available at most pharmacies and supermarkets in tea, extract, and pill form.
The constituents found in echinacea represent a wide variety and complex blend of immune-enhancing and antimicrobial substances. Some of these compounds have direct antimicrobial properties and others stimulate or modulate differ parts of the immune system, contributing to the herb’s strength in conferring immunity and fighting a wide variety of infections.
Echinacea has been proven to activate the reticulo-endothelial layer (found throughout the body, but especially in the blood, connective tissues, spleen, liver, lungs, bone marrow, and lymph nodes), increasing alpha, beta and gamma globulin (which are forms of antibodies that help fight infection), and increasing the rate of phagocytosis, or the ingestion of bacteria and other unwanted microbes.
Echinacea’s rhizomes are said to have the most efficacious mixture of active compounds found in the plant.
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Echinacea is on the endangered plants list. So please only use “certified organically grown” instead of harvesting it from the wild.
Its name derives from the Greek meaning “hedgehog,” due to the plant’s spiny, central disk.
Echinacea belongs to the daisy/sunflower family.
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