Parts Used: The whole plant or – much more often – just the root.
Pharmacy name: echinacea herb – Echinaceae herba (formerly: Herba Echinaceae), echinacea root – Echinaceae radix (formerly: Radix Echinaceae).
Botanical description. Echinacea is fixed in the soil with a tap root that has numerous lateral roots. Erect, from 30 to 120 cm in height, thin stem is covered, like leaves, with bristly hairs. Lanceolate entire leaves with a short petiole are not densely scattered along the stem. The end of the stem is crowned with a single large basket with a spherical receptacle and 12-15 reed flowers from pink to red-purple color. Only tubular flowers located in the central part of the basket bear fruit. Echinacea blooms all summer, delighting the eye with its amazingly beautiful flowers. Echinacea is native to the Americas, but has long been grown in European gardens as an ornamental plant. Sometimes it comes across and “at large”, but it is not necessary to talk about a wild population worthy of mention.
Collection and preparation. The root is dug in spring or autumn. It is freed from adhering earth and dried in the shade. When collecting herbs, freshly blossomed plants are taken and immediately dried in the shade. Active ingredients: echinacin, essential oil, resins, bitterness, phytosterols, starch, sugar and echi-nacoside with antibacterial action.
Healing action and application.The medicinal use of this plant is borrowed from the North American Indians, who used the root and leaves of Echinacea to heal all sorts of wounds. This application was scientifically verified in 1950. We know that echinacea contains substances that act against bacteria. We know further that this effectiveness against bacteria is enhanced by substances that stimulate the body’s non-specific defenses, thereby helping in infectious diseases. Both together make echinacea products very valuable for medical professionals. The German National Health Service recommends echinacea to support the body’s defenses against colds of the throat and nose. However, such use does not preclude concomitant antibiotic treatment, which, if indicated, may be more successful. So, you should not be afraid of incompatibility while taking echinacea and chemical products. Echinacea tea plays only a subordinate role, while galenic products, including the homeopathic remedy, are very common and effective in use both internally in the form of drops and externally in the form of an ointment. When used internally, first of all, protection against infectious diseases and enhancing the effect of chemical drugs are taken into account. Drops are used for mild general infections, to prevent influenza, for all kinds of colds and as an additional remedy for all kinds of skin diseases, for example, with psoriasis. Ointments are also used, which are prescribed for the treatment of wounds. Echinacea products have been found to be the most effective, including an extract of the whole plant. Often it turns out to be more effective, in any case,
Use in homeopathy. The use in homeopathy is based on the property of echinacea to protect against infections. The original tincture is made from the fresh plant and diluted accordingly depending on how it is used. The homeopathic remedy Echinacea is recommended for boils and carbuncles, wound erysipelas, purulent, ulcerative processes, poorly healing wounds, complications after smallpox vaccination and in “puerperal fever” (postpartum sepsis. – Ed.). Even injections of this homeopathic remedy are possible. The tincture should be taken in a dosage of 5 to 10 drops 3 times every day or 5 drops every 2 hours. Use the product in breeding no more than D 1. For compresses, infusion is diluted with water in a ratio of 1:3. Such a compress on the wound is credited with a very special analgesic effect.
Application in folk medicine. In German folk medicine, echinacea is not known, we know this plant simply as an ornamental, although the North American Indians, as already mentioned, often and successfully use their wild echinacea. Side effects when using a pharmaceutical agent in the dosages described above should not be feared. Due to the bitter taste, the risk of overdose is minimal.