It was quite a while before I found out that 'Echinacea' was, well, actually Latin for 'Coneflower', a genus of plants native to North America that is beloved by many gardeners for its beautiful flowers and hardiness...
|Monarch butterfly on a Purple Coneflower|
But does it actually work?
|dried and powdered Echinacea purpurea|
|The blooms of Echinacea angustifolia (photo source US Department of Agriculture)|
|Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'|
(I wonder if all these new named cultivars of Coneflowers also have the same medicinal properties.)
Also, different supplement companies also use different parts of the plant. Traditionally, Native Americans chewed the roots or mashed the roots to make a poultice. Echinacea sold at your local drug store could contain the roots, the stem, the flower, or a mix of everything.
|I'm assuming by 'Aerial Part', they mean 'the flowers'.|
Add all that to the fact that you can take Echinacea in the form of a powder, tincture, tea, ointment, or who knows what else, and I can see why the results of all these scientific studies seem to be all over the place! More good, comprehensive studies are needed - but that takes money, and it is usually the companies selling the product that is willing to fund (and conduct!) these studies.
|Another issue is that some people are over-harvesting wild Echinacea for the herbal industry at a faster pace than some of these wild species can repopulate. Ack!|
Has anyone else tried Echinacea and found it to to help or not to help?
Maybe this summer I should dry and powder some of my garden Coneflower plants so I'll be all set for next winter's cold and flu season...
ps. Side effects of taking Echinacea seem to be pretty rare, but still, people allergic to echinacea, people with autoimmune disorders, and people taking certain medications shouldn't take it. And please don't mix some Echinacea into your baby's bottle saying that, 'Indie from the Red House Garden seemed to think this stuff is okay.' Use good judgment. Don't drink and drive and take Echinacea. Don't operate heavy machinery under the influence of this blog, and insert any other applicable disclaimers here...