Echinacea: Understanding it’s Key Uses for Immune Support
One of the most identifiable and beautiful garden herbs, echinacea has been a tried and true herb hero for generations. Echinacea is considered one of nature's most effective remedies for assisting the body in clearing infection and dealing with acute inflammatory issues. This incredible plant reduces the severity and duration of infective symptoms, while also helping the body to deal with any invaders. It effectively targets bacterial and viral infections throughout the body, and has a specific focus within the upper respiratory system.
There are two primary species of echinacea; Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea. There is suggestion that Echinacea angustifolia is more medicinally active, however, both species demonstrate the ability to nourish and support the respiratory and immune system.
Echinacea Traditional Uses
Echinacea has a long history of traditional use for a variety of health issues - not just immune related! Echinacea has been used as an astringent, antimicrobial mouthwash, powdered and used topically for wound healing and venomous snake bites, and has been grown in nearly every medicinal herb garden for seasonal tea to support chronic infection for the whole family. Echinacea is particularly effective where individuals have become ‘run-down’ as a result of stress or over-work. The classic scenario may be an individual who becomes ill as soon as they start to relax. In small doses along with other Rasayana ayurvedic herbs, echinacea will support and gradually strengthen a weakened immune system.
When should You Take Echinacea?
Echinacea is quite popular today as an immune supportive herb, and is a featured ingredient in a number of seasonal immune supplements. As mentioned above, echinacea has a long traditional use of clearing microbial infection from the body, including bacterial and viral. Echinacea shines as an immune supportive herb where there is infection already present, such as cold or flu or respiratory infection. It has been shown to lessen symptoms and aid in a speedy recovery. To this effect, echinacea is known as an “immune stimulant”, activating the immune system to be on the lookout for immune compromised areas of the body.
As such, we do not always want to be stimulating our immune system on a daily basis if we don’t have reason. If our immune system is upregulated indefinitely this could lead to autoimmune issues down the road. In acute situations, echinacea is an herb hero to always keep on hand during cold and flu months, and can be taken during periods when there is infection present to aid in the recovery. If you’re looking for an herb hero to take daily for preventive measures, elderberry is the ideal herb of choice.
Ethical Sourcing of Pukka’s Fair Wild Echinacea
Because of the recent rise in popularity and use of echinacea, unsustainable wild harvesting of the E. angustifolia species has caused concern. This is why, at Pukka, we only support sustainable, fair and organic farming practices.
Pukka source Echinacea angustifolia from Germany and the USA. The Echinacea grown in the USA is from Washington state, close to a beautiful region known as Trout Lake. It is native to eastern and central North America where they commonly grow in moist to dry woodlands or prairies. This plant is now cultivated across the globe for both medicinal and horticultural purposes. We use echinacea in our Elderberry and Echinacea tea.
Elderberry & Echinacea tea contains:
Echinacea purpurea root: Aromatic, tongue-tingling, bitter-sweet echinacea root boosts our body’s natural function of protection.
Echinacea purpurea leaf: Its green lance-like leaves contain a variety of antioxidant flavonoids.
Author: Lindsay Kluge
Herbal Educator, Pukka Herbs US
Lindsay is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist with a passion for bringing plants and people together. Through her work as a teacher and practitioner, she is passionate about helping people feel empowered in their health through community organic gardening, health education, and connection with nature. She has worked in clinical practiced with naturopathic doctors and MD’s alike, bridging the gap between alternative and conventional medicine to bring comprehensive, research based botanical medicine to her local communities. With an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a Masters in herbal medicine, plants are Lindsay's love language. She currently serves as the herbal educator for Pukka Herbs in the US, and teaches clinical nutrition at her alma mater, the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a guest lecturer at herbal medicine schools and conferences throughout the US.
MS Herbal Medicine
Years of Experience:
10+ years as a clinical herbalist and nutritionist practitioner