Echinacea angustifolia; E. purpurea; E. pallida

Daisy Family (Asteraceae)

Energetics: cool, dry, stimulating (De la Foret, n.d.)
Taste: acrid, zingy (De la Foret, n.d.)
When to harvest: Harvest aerial parts of E. purpurea during growing season, and roots in early spring or fall. Harvest roots of E. angustifolia and E. pallida in early spring or fall.
Identification: Echinacea is a perennial plant that grows in sunny, open areas, and is very resistant to drought conditions, originating in North American prairie landscapes. Echinacea has narrow, long (7 - 10cm on mature plant) leaves that end in a sharp point, and which have some lobes and sharp teeth, along the leaf edge. The stem and leaves have little bristles, and feel a bit rough to the touch. The flowers are typically pink, purple, or magenta, though the plant hybridises easily and can have flowers of other colours, and sometimes the flower petals droop down, which is why it is often called coneflower, but not all flowers have drooping petals. The centre of the flower has a velcro-like structure and texture, with orange tips - this part will produce seed. Echinacea can grow up to 120cm tall and spreads up to 90cm wide.

Please note that this information is largely based on De la Foret (n.d.) except where noted. See Reference section for all reference details.

While echinacea has become strongly associated with cold/flu support, it is more generally useful for tackling infection and soothing inflammation, meaning it can help with far more than just cold/flu.


Skin: boils, abscesses, acne - helps to counter the inflammation while also fighting the bacteria causing the infection.

Oral: helps address infections in the mouth, including gingivitis. It also alleviates sore throat and is effective against Streptococcus bacteria that cause strep throat.

Urinary tract: Echinacea’s inflammation modulating and antimicrobial power lends itself to treating urinary tract infections, often in conjunction with cranberry, uva ursi, or marshmallow.

Respiratory: Echinacea has been shown to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections in vitro (outside of a living organism), and to significantly prevent and reduce viral loads, and therefore duration and symptoms, of respiratory viruses (including coronaviruses) in clinical trials of adults and children (Nicolussi et al., 2022). It can also relieve swollen lymph glands during a cold/flu.


Echinacea can alleviate irritation and pain from spider bites, rattlesnake bites, wasp and bee stings, and scorpion stings, by inhibiting an enzyme that causes tissue damage from these bites and stings. While it is important to seek medical attention for things like snake bites or stings in people with allergies, taking echinacea tincture internally and applying externally can help.

Plant preparations


  • Tincture - root or all parts
  • Decoction - root
  • Infusion - aerial parts


  • Tincture or Liniment


Some people with autoimmune issues do not react well to echinacea, while others do not have any issues with echinacea. If someone does have an autoimmune condition, it is best to avoid echinacea unless consulting with a medical professional. In addition, people with leukaemia, diabetes, connective tissue disorders, multiple sclerosis, HIV, or liver disorders should avoid echinacea. Echinacea may reduce the effect of immunosuppressant drugs, for example, those taken by people with organ transplants; people taking such medicines should avoid echinacea (Mount Sinai, n.d.).

In addition, if someone frequently gets respiratory infections, echinacea (or any other immune stimulating herb) should not be considered the solution to a weak immune system. Rather, it is better to explore lifestyle changes to strengthen the immune system, as well as immune-building herbs and foods.

©2024 Phytology