|We owe Native Americans a debt of gratitude for introducing the rest of
the world to the wonders of the purple cone-flower plant. Indians of the Great Plains
first used this herb as a remedy for snakebites and other skin wounds. They also applied
the root of this plant directly to the mouth for toothaches and sore throats. Word of
echinacea's healing properties traveled back to Europe, where it has become one of the
most sought after herbs and one of the better researched.
There is renewed interest in echinacea today in the United States because of this herb's
demonstrated positive effect on the immune system. Many studies have shown that echinacea
inhibits the enzyme called hyaluronidase, which in turn helps maintain a natural barrier
between healthy tissue and unwanted pathogenic organisms. Thus, echinacea helps the body
maintain its line of defense against unwanted invaders, and acids in tissue regeneration.
Echinacea's antimicrobial activities are widely demonstrated. In 1972, a study
appeared in the Journal of the Medical Chemistry showing that an echinacea
extract inhibited tumor growth in rats. Echinacea was shown to increase white blood cell
Several European studies show that echinacea appears to lessen the severity of colds and
flu, and helps speed recovery. Echinacea has also been used successfully to control
candida, an annoying and persistent fungal infection. In fact, patients who used an
antifungal cream and echinacea extract were less likely to suffer a recurrence than those
treated solely with the antifungal cream. Other studies show that topical echinacea has
been used successfully to control psoriasis and eczema.
Many of the active compounds in echinacea can be destroyed during processing. Freeze
drying is the most effective way to preserve this herb's healing properties.
Echinacea has a number of constituents with immune supporting properties, and they appear
to work synergistically together.