• Natalie Rogers, HHP

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)



Texas is a great state that is full of a wide variety of native plants. One of these native plants that also have medicinal qualities is Echinacea Echinacea purpurea. The Echinacea plant is a perennial herb that can grow between two and five feet tall. They bloom from April to September and their petal colors vary from pink and purple shades. (Buchanan's Native Plants, 2011) Other common names that are used to reference Echinacea purpurea include purple coneflower, American coneflower, black Samson, comb flower, hedgehog, Indian head, rudbeckia, Sampson head, scurvy root, and snakeroot. (Herb Wisdom, n.d.)

According to research done by the University of Maryland Medical Center, they have found that Native Americans have been using Echinacea for over 400 years in the treatment of wounds and infections, scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, and blood poisoning. But, after modern antibiotics were introduced, its popularity in the United States declined. (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2016) An article on NCBI titled Applications of the Phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in Infectious Diseases states that the medicinal effect of Echinacea on rhinovirus-infected human bronchial and lung epithelial cells was successful. Several different preparations were used in the testing and they found that the Echinacea partially or completely reversed the stimulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This showed the researchers that Echinacea purpurea preparations could be beneficial before or after someone is infected with the rhinovirus. Other viruses that they tested that also had positive results were the HSV-1, influenza A, adenovirus type 3 and 11, and respiratory syncytial virus. (NCBI, 2011) The efficacy of the medicinal benefits of Echinacea purpurea is not so definitive, even though there are quite a good number of studies done on this herbal plant. The reason being is because most of the studies did not specify what type of preparation was used (tea, tincture, extract, etc.) nor did it always specify what dosages were used and the duration of the treatment time. Another important factor to take into consideration before turning to Echinacea products for therapeutic benefits is to look into what species of Echinacea was used. Many of the mass produced products found in health stores are actually a combination of Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. They all have medicinal uses but if you want a specific species, than this is important. (NCBI, 2005)

Upon my research, I looked up the professional information on the TRC Natural Medicines database for the use of Echinacea. Using Echinacea products as directed is found to be likely safe to use for up to ten days. Several specific brand liquid extracts have been found to be safe for longer but it is encouraged to follow any directions on the safety label for the product that you purchase. The use of Echinacea amongst children age’s two to eleven has been found to be possibly safe up to ten days. Some allergic reactions which include a rash have been reported though. Due to the risk of allergic reactions, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency which is in the United Kingdom advises people to not use oral Echinacea products for children under the age of twelve. When it comes to using Echinacea products during pregnancy, it is listed as possibly safe when used orally and for short-term. This involves the dosage forms of 250mg to 1,000mg per day of solid form, or 30 drops per day in tincture form for five to seven days during the first trimester. Due to non-verified research, it is advised to avoid Echinacea during the duration of pregnancy though. For breastfeeding mothers, it is also advised to avoid using. The most common side effects of using Echinacea products include the reports of gastrointestinal upset and rashes due to allergic reactions. There are multiple drug interactions with the use of Echinacea products so it is advised to be cautious and speak with your doctor before using them. These drug interactions include caffeine, Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) Substrates, Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) Substrates, Darunavir (Prezista), Docetaxel (Docefrez, Taxotere), Etoposide (VePesid), etravirine (Intelence), immunosuppressants, Lopinavir/Ritonavir (Kaletra), Midazolam (Versed), and Warfarin (Coumadin). (Natural Medicines, 2007)

References

Buchanan's Native Plants. (2011, May 26). Going Native: Our Top 10 Native Plants for Houston. Retrieved from https://buchanansplants.com/going-native-our-top-10-native-plants-for-houston/

Herb Wisdom. (n.d.). Echinacea purpurea Benefits & Information. Retrieved from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-echinacea.html

Natural Medicines. (2007, May 11). Natural Medicines - Login. Retrieved from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=981

NCBI. (2005, August). Echinacea species (Echinacea angustifolia (DC.) Hell., Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt.,Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench): a review of their chemistry... - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16102249

NCBI. (2011, October 26). Applications of the Phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in Infectious Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3205674/

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2016, February 2). Echinacea | University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/echinacea

#echinacea #echinaceapurpurea #herb #herbalism #herbalmedicine #inflammation #virus #flu #infection #wound #cytokines #rhinovirus

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