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.
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Western Name: Echinacea
Also Known As: Coneflowers, Purple Coneflower, Kansas Snakeroot
Organs/Systems: Skin, Respiratory, Immune
Key Actions: Immunostimulant, Laxative, Alterative, Antimicrobial, Antitumor, Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory
Medicinal Uses: Snakebite, 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.
Pin Yin: Zi Zhu Hua
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Lung, 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, cough, malaria, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, asthma, joint pain, vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, snake bites, cancer, wounds; enlivens lymph-promoting detoxification; builds immunity.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Echinacea leaves are normally hairy with a rough texture, having uniseriate trichomes. The ray florets number 8-21 and the corollas are dark purple to pale pink, white, or yellow. Their pollen is normally yellow. Purple centers are distinctly conical in shape and surrounded by dullish purple ray florets. They have ovate leaves that taper to a sharp point at the end and the flowers bloom from June to August.
Nine species of echinacea are native to North America. They grow exceptionally well in the Midwest and Northeast regions. They are found in moist to dry prairies and wooded areas. These species are drought-tolerant perennials.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Rhizome (said to have a more efficacious mixture of active chemicals), Stem, Flower, Leaf. Flower petals are edible and can be used in salads, otherwise not a food plant.
Flavors/Temps: Mild, Pungent, Salty, Cool, Dry
Caution: No known side effects; considered very safe.
Key Constituents: Wide variety and complex. Phenols, cichoric acid, caftaric acid, alkylamides (fat soluble, inhibit tumor necrosis, and can have similar potency as the THC compound in marijuana), and polysaccharides (which increase the rate of phgocytosis)
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, and headache, and as an analgesic, or aid in 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 colds and flu.
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 different 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 reticuloendothelial 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.
Echinacea is an important source of nectar for butterflies and many birds who flock to the plants to eat their seeds.
Echinacea is on the endangered plant’s 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 and sunflower family.
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Connecting Eastern and Western perspectives on HOW and WHY this herb works. Find out how to safely and effectively use this healing herb for treating conditions and for your Body, Mind, and Spirit. Find True Health. Explore uses, safety information, benefits, history, recipes, gardening tips, essential oil information, if it applies, and much, much more in this online course.
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