Echinacea is a very popular herb and can be found in several species that are used to make medicine from its leaves, flower, and root and are native to North America and were used as traditional herbal remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes. It is used especially for the treatment of influenza (flu) and colds. It is a bitter herb with some aromatic properties, and is used for the boosting effect it has on the immune system.
This healing herb also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects and is used externally to treat herpes, acne, psoriasis and infected injuries. Years ago, the Plains Indians used Echinacea to treat bites from various snakes and insects that are poisonous. They also used the herb extract to relieve toothaches and sore throat and treat wounds, mumps, smallpox, and measles. When the first settlers came, they adopted its various therapeutic uses and since that time, Echinacea became one of the top selling herbs in the United States.
One study even suggests that echinacea extract exerted an antiviral action on the development of recurrent cold sores triggered by the herpes simplex virus when supplied prior to infection.
Professional herbalists may also recommend echinacea to treat urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast (candida) infections, ear infections (also known as otitis media), athlete’s foot, sinusitis, hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis), as well as slow-healing wounds.
Herbs contain active substances that may trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, people should take herbs only under the supervision of a health care provider knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine. Among the side effect that many people experience is nausea and other stomach issues.
Echinacea is available OTC (over the counter) at pharmacies, health shops and supermarkets as teas, liquid extracts, a dried herb, and as capsules or tablets.