The Healing Power of Echinacea

We learned that cayenne pepper has beneficial effects on our health due to its active component and this helpful plant can easily be grown either indoors or outdoors. Just like cayenne pepper, Echinacea has a lot of awesome health benefits too.

Echinacea belongs to the daisy family that is natively growing in eastern and central North America. Echinacea is a perennial plant that can grow up to 4 feet in height. This drought-tolerant plant grows in moist to dry or open wooded areas. Let’s talk more about what you should know about echinacea. 

History of Echinacea 

One of its varieties, Echinacea Angustifolia was used as a folk medicine to North American indigenous people. History tells that many other Native American tribes were using Echinacea for cold prevention and other cold symptoms like coughs, headaches, sore throats, and pain medication.

Other Echinacea varieties were used by plain Indians to treat poisonous bites from insects and snakes. They also used it to alleviate toothaches, wounds and sore throats. It was widely used by settlers until it became the top-selling herb in the US.

Different Species of Echinacea :

 

  • Echinacea Angustifolia or Narrow-leaf coneflowerIt is also known as blacksamson echinacea. This North American perennial plant belongs to the sunflower family. It is widely grown in central Canada and the US and can reach up to 28 inches. It blooms in late spring to mid-summer. It was used for many medicinal purposes by Native Americans.

 

  • Echinacea Atrorubens – Topeka purple coneflowerIt is native to some parts of the south-central US like Kansas, Oklahoma and eastern Texas. It can possibly grow in dry soils up to 3 feet tall with purple flowers or rarely pink or white. It blooms during late spring.

 

  • Echinacea laevigata – Smooth coneflower, smooth purple coneflowerIt is already listed as one of the endangered species of plants that can now rarely be found on roadsides or other areas with full sunlight exposure. It has narrow pink or purplish ray florets that are mostly with leafless stems and can grow up to 5 feet in height.

 

  • Echinacea Pallida – Pale purple coneflowerIt is similar to Echinacea Angustifolia, although it grows taller – up to 3 feet in height. The flower heads have pale rose-purple or nearly white ray florets that bloom from May to July. It is also used as herbal medicine.

 

  • Echinacea paradoxa – Yellow coneflower, Bush’s purple coneflowerIt can grow up to 3 feet tall and can produce white, pink, or yellow flowers and yellow or pink disc flowers. It is considered an endangered species in Arkansas.

 

  • Echinacea purpurea – Purple coneflower, eastern purple coneflowerIt is best grown in full sun exposure. It is one of the most adaptable plants that can survive in very dry and poor soil. It is a perennial plant that is coarse and hairy and is native to central and southeastern US. It has daisy-like purple coneflowers that can grow up to 4 feet tall.

 

  • Echinacea sanguinea – Sanguine purple coneflowerIt is a perennial plant that grows widely in open sandy fields and pine woods in some parts of North America. Its flower is common with a striking shade of rose-pink to pale purple. Its center has a purplish-brown and green color.

 

  • Echinacea serotina – Narrow-leaved purple coneflowerIt is almost similar to Echinacea purpurea but with inflexible and stiff hairs on the foliage. It is commonly found in Louisiana and Arkansas.

 

  • Echinacea simulata – Wavyleaf purple coneflowerThis can grow up to 3 feet in height with a rough and hairy coneflower that is in purple color. Its petals are drooping with pale pinkish-purple that are daisy-like. It is almost similar to Echinacea pallida except for the color of its pollen anthers which are yellow while Echinacea pallida are white.

 

  • Echinacea tennesseensis – Tennessee coneflowerIt is a US native plant that is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil with full sun to part shade exposure. It has daisy-like coneflowers that are slightly upturned, rose-purple petals.  Its blooming period is from June to August. It is almost similar to Echinacea purpurea but it’s less vigorous and shorter with upturned flowers.

Among these varieties of Echinacea, only three can be used for medicinal purposes – Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea Angustifolia and Echinacea pallida. But based on the study and native American herbalist,  Echinacea Angustifolia’s root is best in terms of its medicinal purposes. Here’s why:

  1. This is one of the most used medicinal plants in the history of North America.
  2. It has been tested and proven effective against viral infections like the common cold and flu.
  3.  It helps to boost your immune system.
  4.  It helps maintain a healthy inflammatory response.
  5. It helps the tissues of the throat and sinuses that are exposed to airborne stressors.
  6. It is loaded with antioxidants which helps protect your body from oxidative stress.
  7. It helps lower your blood sugar levels.
  8. It helps reduce anxiety.
  9. It helps treat skin concerns like acne and wrinkles.
  10. It protects you against cancer.

Quick Guide on Growing Echinacea

Echinacea is one of the easiest plants to grow. So here’s the quick guide if you are planning to grow one:

  1. It is a low-maintenance type of plant. It doesn’t need daily watering.
  2. It is very adaptable but grows better in full sun in rich soil.
  3. It grows from direct-seeding or nursery stock or division.
  4. It blooms from midsummer to fall but can also tolerate light frost.

If you are interested in buying echinacea, it is widely available online with excellent reviews.

Summing up:

Echinacea has already proven itself for many years. It has shown its beneficial effect on immunity, anxiety, inflammation, skin health and blood sugar. Though there are many verieties of Echinacea, Echinacea Angustifolia’s root is considered the best for medicinal purposes according to native American herbalists and based on the authoritative studies.

Herbal plants can last in the garden for years, making them cost effective. Most are easy to grow, too, just like the flower of our next topic, Lobelia. Lobelia has proven to have calming effects on stress and depression, as well as many other health benefits. So, hang on and we will talk more about this wonderful herb in our next blog post.

 

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