Why is Echinacea so special?
by Dee Atkinson MNIMH. 12 Dec 2009.
Echinacea is possibly one of the best-known medicinal plants in Great Britain.
From its humble origins in Eastern and mid-North America, this plant with its beautiful purple flowers has travelled and become an important part of all herbal dispensaries.
The story goes that the American Indians observed that Echinacea was effective against the bite of a rattlesnake, and that it is was eaten by elk that were sick or wounded. It was widely used by the American Indians and was adopted by the settlers. By the 1930s it had become a popular remedy in European herbal medicine.
Like many plant drugs, the medicinal actions of Echinacea can’t be attributed to one specific constituent, but rather to the complex interactions between all the ingredients. The popularity of Echinacea has meant that it is one plant that has undergone a number of clinical trials. Echinacea has been shown to protect against a number of viruses and to improve the outcome when used to treat colds and flu. In 2007 a meta-analysis of 14 different clinical trials was published in The Lancet and it concluded that Echinacea reduced both the length and incidence of the common cold.
I am delighted to tell you that Napiers new highly concentrated and potent Elixir of Echinacea is now available as a Licensed Remedy. I have been using this formula with my patients and the combination of practitioner strength Echinacea with Indigo and Fumitory make this an important winter remedy. This traditional blend gives us the best practice of blending of herbs to create a synergistic formula that acts on the whole person.
Practicing herbalists always use blends of herbs, and in my experience this is an exceptional formula. I use Echinacea to treat all types of infection, especially where there is a bacterial or fungal element, for example in upper respiratory infections, where there is a possible bacterial infection. I have prescribed it for patients with sinus infections, catarrh, inner ear infections and bronchitis as well as to help boost immunity.
I also use Echinacea as a preventive measure when there are colds or a winter flu bug doing the rounds. I recommend patients and their families take it regularly as it does seem to help reduce susceptibility to infection.