Echinacea – The Romeo to My Juliet

Echinacea – The Romeo to My Juliet


It is my first true love and the body’s soul mate.  It was never meant for short term use.  It is the forever herb…

I felt that with all the excitement surrounding Turmeric Forte, I should revisit Echinacea.  I LOVE Echinacea and the more I understand this amazing herb and how it works, the more I love it.  But when we consider Turmeric Forte and Echinacea we find that life is better with both of them!

To be more specific here, I am talking about Echinacea Premium from MediHerb. I still remember the first time I tasted Echinacea Premium…  It wasn’t exactly love at first sight.  The tongue tingling experience put me off a little at first!  Little did I know at the time that the tingling was from the alkylamides and a sign of high quality with true medicinal properties.  Oh, and I also found out that copious amounts of water right after having a high quality undiluted liquid form of Echinacea does NOT help!!!  So, like all great relationships, we were off to a rough start.  But you know how you get that gut feeling, or in this case your tongue, that there is something special happening?  I had that feeling.  Literally and figuratively!

6E9AC0EE-C764-4343-913C-2EE6F988F76CSo why the confusion and misunderstanding about this beautiful plant that has so many benefits to the human body?  Part of that is due to the three different species and that while all parts of the plant have been used, they are NOT all created equal!  It is known as the purple coneflower and the 3 main species used medicinally are Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida.  Echinacea purpurea is the most widely used but it is the rhizome and root of the Echinacea angustifolia that contains the highest amount of alkylamides.  E. pallida is relatively low in alkylamides compared to other two but has been incorrectly labeled in the past as E. angustifolia.  I believe this is why I have had patients tell me that Echinacea “doesn’t work”. If there’s no therapeutic benefit, due mainly to missing alkylamides, of course that would be the belief and an actual truth.  The confusion continues because often times when reviewing the literature, all of the species and parts are lumped together as if there was only one Echinacea plant. I love introducing my patients to Echinacea Premium especially if they have tried other brands!  One case I had several years ago was a college student who was still suffering from Mono (Epstein Barr Virus) …  She had researched Echinacea a little and bought an over the counter brand hoping it would improve her health.  She was mentioning it to me and how she didn’t feel any better. I asked her if she would like to try Echinacea Premium from MediHerb and explained why I thought it could help and how it was probably different from the brand she was taking. She took Echinacea Premium and when I saw her the following week, she couldn’t believe how much better she felt!!! It was so simple and at the same time incredibly effective.

I find the history of Echinacea to be fascinating. I believe it proves, without a doubt, that Echinacea is best taken long term and increased during times of heightened stress or illness.  The first use of Echinacea root came from the Native American tribes.

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The King’s American Dispensatory, pg. 671

It was later adopted by the Eclectics in the late 19thcentury and by 1921 the root of E. angustifolia was the most popular treatment prescribed by the Eclectic physicians.  Their extensive use of it for over 50 years resulted in significant clinical experience.  Much of what they did was based on tribal knowledge and the best sources for this data are The King’s American Dispensatory and Ellingwood.  In more serious health conditions, the Eclectics would use the Echinacea root long term.  Their clinical experience I believe puts to rest the idea that we should only use it short term and it would be a key herb for supporting any auto immune condition.

Here is a summary of traditional therapeutic uses of Echinacea root according to Kerry Bone and Simon Mills from Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Second Edition; Modern Herbal Medicine:

“Bacterial, viral and protozoal infections, including infections of the digestive tract, respiratory and urinary tracts; mild septicaemia; states of weakened, suppressed or imbalanced immunity, including allergies and autoimmune disease; inflammatory and purulent conditions, including acne, abscess, furunculosis; envenomation.  Topically for poorly healing wounds, inflamed skin conditions and bacterial infections.”

As the research continues on about this amazing plant more benefits are being discovered.  Fairly recently, research has shown its impact on the endocannabinoid system and its influence on our “fight or flight” response supporting a better response from the HP axis.  This discovery was first presented in 2004 at the International Congress on Natural Products. This related specifically to the alkylamides found in the root of the E. purpurea and E. angustifolia plants.

It is simply one of the best herbs out there! BUT quality matters!!! Adulteration of this beautiful plant is quite high so it is important to get it from a reliable source.  If someone has a known allergy to the members of the Compositae family, care should be used when taking or prescribing Echinacea.  I believe in more serious health conditions it is best to work with a qualified practitioner well versed in herbal medicine for the best results.

I am constantly amazed at the power of plants and whole food nutrition!  It is proof that there is already a plant or a food that can heal us.  We need to get back to our roots and not accept that pharmaceutical drugs are the way to go.  They fix nothing and are a dangerous piece of duct tape covering up what is really going on.  Modern science is proving what great healers like the Eclectics and others from the past knew about herbal medicine and its power to heal the body!!!

I have only skimmed the surface when it comes to the therapeutic benefits of E. angustifolia and E. purpurea.  If you are a practitioner, please check out Kerry Bone and Simon Mills textbook, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Second Edition.  If you are not a practitioner, find a qualified practitioner who uses MediHerb to get more information about it and to hopefully add it to your daily support!

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