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Echinacea spp.

Botanical name: Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea

Other names: Purple coneflower, Red sunflower, Black samson, Black sunsan

Family: Asteraceae/Compositae

Parts Used: Root, flowering tops, aerial parts and whole plant are used medicinally.

In traditional herbal medicine, the root was the preferred part of the plant that native americans and the eclectic physicians used (Bone, 2003).

Constituents: Glycosides (caffeic acid derivatives, echinacoside, isochlorogenic acid, chlorogenic acid, cichoric acid), Polysaccharides (inulin, echinacin), glycoproteins, aminds (alkamides), volatile oils, sesquiterpenes, flavonoids and alkaloids. Trace minerals and vitamin C (Holmes Vol 2, 2001).

Energetics: Pungent, salty, cool and dry. Calming, stimulating and dissolving (Holmes Vol 2, 2001).

Actions: immune modulating, immune enhancing, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, depurative, anti inflammatory, vulnerary, lymphatic, sialagogue

Indications: Treating and helping to prevent general infections, upper respiratory infections, sinusitis, bronchitis, cough, asthma - particularly that which has been trigger by a cold or flu, immune enhancing, abscess, boils, poor healing wounds, eczema, psoriasis, mouth ulcers, skin and glandular inflammation. Gastrointestinal infections, candida, dysentery, urinary tract infections, kidney infections, infectious hepatitis. Maybe helpful for post viral fatigue (particularly for latent viruses such as shingles or glandular fever), chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.


  • The root can be made into either a decoction or a tincture. Different constituents can be drawn out of a plant using different mediums. For echinacea, alcohol will draw out more of the active constituents making a tincture more effective than a decoction that is made from water. The fresh dried root should be used when making either preparation. A good quality echinacea preparation will make your tongue tingle.

  • Making a glycetract blend with the root is the most pleasant way for younger children to take echinacea.

  • Adults and older children can have echinacea with a small amount of water or juice or it can be mixed into a warming drink. Recipe here:

  • Echinacea has no conclusive evidence that use for long periods of time is harmful. Many will take echinacea all year round. This can be particularly helpful for children and adults alike, helping to improve resistance to infection.

  • Topically could be used as a wash or a compress - blend 5ml of tincture with 250ml of water Can be used to help injuries, school sores and other skin disorders. Contact dermatitis may rarely occur for those that are sensitive when echinacea is applied topically.

Safety Considerations

  • Generally echinacea is well tolerated but it may cause an upset tummy for some people. May cause mouth irritation.

  • Caution of use for those that are taking immunosuppressant medications. This is due to Echinacea's ability to enhance the immune system's abilities. You may potentially experience a flare in your symptoms.

  • Should not be taken by those that are allergic to the Asteraceae family. The risk of an allergic reaction is low, especially if the preparation of the root used are free of pollens.

Drug Interactions:

  • Immunosuppressant medications (theoretically)

  • chemotherapy

  • corticosteroids

  • blood thinners

  • hepatotoxic drugs (Ulbricht and Seamon, 2010)


5-10ml daily (adult dose)

This can be divided up and had as a morning dose of 2.5-5ml and an evening dose of 2.5-5ml.

Childrens dose can be calculated via their weight.

Quality Echinacea can be purchased in the Soul Balance Plant Medicine shop. Delivery is only within New Zealand.

Please check with your doctor, herbalist or naturopath before starting any herbal medications.


Bone, K. (2003) A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs; St Louis, Missouri, Churchill Livingstone

Holmes, P. (2001) The Energetics of Western Herbs - A materia medica integrating western and chinese herbal therapeutics, Volume 2, 4th edition; Colorado USA, Snowlotus Press

Ulbricht, C., Seamon, E. (2010) Natural Standard Herbal Pharmacotherapy; St Louis Missouri, Mosby Elsevier

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