Echinacea is a perennial plant native to North America and farmed in both the United States and Europe for use in nutritional supplements. The plant, which reaches 20 inches in height, is part of the aster family and comprises nine individual plant species (although only three are used medicinally). Echinacea is a common ingredient in many nutritional supplements.
The common name for Echinacea (correctly pronounced eck-ah-NAYS-ee-ah) is purple coneflower because the plant produces purple flowers, similar to a daisy, which sit atop a high cone. It is also known by a variety of other names, however, including black Susan, black Sampson, comb flower, hedgehog, Indian head, Kansas snakeroot, narrow-leaved purple coneflower, scurvy root, and snakeroot.
- Echinacea is one of the world's leading herbs for immune support.
- Echinacea promotes the body's natural defense system.
- Echinacea naturally contains beneficial polysaccharides and phytosterols.
- Echinacea has been used by the Plains Indians for centuries, and is native to North America.
- Echinacea can be used any time of the year.
- Certain components of Echinacea including polysaccharide, caffeic acid, and alkemide are believed to be activators of the immune system, mimicking the effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
Echinacea has been popular with Native Americans as a health-promoting herb for more than 400 years, primarily for immune benefits. It was first harvested commercially in the 1800's, but during the 1930's the herb achieved widespread popularity in the U. S. and Europe.
Echinacea was also sold for a variety of health purposes. Following World War II, echinacea's popularity declined.
Interest in the herb blossomed again in the 1980s, however, and today it remains one of the most popular nutritional supplements in the country. It is estimated that echinacea accounts for approximately 10 percent of all dietary supplement sales in the United States.
- Echinacea is best known as one of the world's leading herbs for supporting the immune system.
- Echinacea contains a variety of chemical compounds with significant physiological functions, including carbohydrates, phytosterols, flavonoids, and resins.
- It contains inulin which may be responsible for some of echinacea's benefits.
- Echinacein and several other substances in echinacea may be responsible for some of its soothing properties.
- The polysaccharides and phytosterols in echinacea play vital roles in the plant's popularity. They act as immune modulators by working with cells of the immune system.
The structure function claims made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These dietary supplement products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.