Echinacea angustifolia; E. purpurea; E. pallida
Daisy Family (Asteraceae)
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.
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.