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The name ‘echinacea’ generally refers to several different flowering plants within the daisy family. The most commonly used species of Echinacea in herbal medicine are E. purpurea, E. pallida and E. angustifolia. Cultivated all over Europe and in America, echinacea is renowned for its colourful flowers with raised, cone-like centres. Interestingly, the name Echinacea is derived from the Greek word ekhinos, meaning “hedgehog or sea urchin” referring to the spiky centre.
All echinacea plants are native to North America. Native Americans discovered the healing properties of Echinacea when they observed wild animals. They realised that wounded elks recuperated after the consumption of Echinacea. They used the fresh roots and root juice to treat toothaches, sore throats, snakebites and blood poisoning. Today, echinacea is used around the world to assist with common cold symptoms and to help boost the immune system.
Traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to: