Natural Immune Booster

Echinacea: Herbal Immune System Booster

Echinacea is one of the most commonly used herbal remedies in America, and has a long history in Native American medicine. There are 9 distinct species of echinacea in the Aster plant family. All are hardy perennials and are commonly used in cultivated gardens because of their distinctive flowers with large, cone-like centers.(1-4)

The three species most investigated for medicinal purposes are:(1-4)

  • Echinacea angustifolia
  • Echinacea pallida
  • Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea is the most frequently used species. It's also believed to be the most potent.(12)

Types of Echinacea

Echinacea can be grown in gardens, and teas, tinctures, and poultices are easy to make at home. There are slight differences between the 3 main species of echinacea used for herbal medicine:(3-7)

Table 1: Types of Echinacea
Scientific & Common Name Photo & Description

Echinacea purpurea

Eastern purple coneflower; Brauneria purpurea, Echinacea purpurea var. arkansana, Rudbeckia purpurea

Echinacea purpurea, also known as Eastern purple coneflower, is one of three main species of echinacea used for herbal medicine.
  • Single or branched smooth stems topped with single lavender-colored flower.
  • 2-5 feet tall.
  • Leaves are larger at the stem base.
  • Blooms spring through autumn.

Echinacea pallida

Pale coneflower; Brauneria pallida, Rudbeckia pallida

Echinacea pallida, also known as pale coneflower, is one of three main species of echinacea used for herbal medicine.
  • Pale pink (almost white) to purple 3-5" flower.
  • Single, greyish green hairy stem, 2-4 feet tall.
  • Narrow, finely-haired base leaves.
  • Blooms May-July.

Echinacea angustifolia

Black samson, Kansas snakeroot, black root, snake root, egigeshishibita

Echinacea angustifolia, also known as Black samson, is one of three main species of echinacea used for herbal medicine.
  • Daisy-like pink to light purple coneflower.
  • Coarse haired 18-24" stems.
  • Blooms May-July.

Echinacea has been used as herbal medicine (especially to boost the immune system) for centuries, but there are safety concerns for some people.(89)

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