Echinacea Effects

Echinacea, known botanically as Echinacea angustifolia, is a member of the Compositae family. It is a perennial plant that grows up to 20 inches high and has a tap root. It has hairy and lacy leaves and purple flowers with a cone-shaped disk at the top, describes the book “A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs” by James Duke and Steven Foster. Echinacea has been used in folk medicine by Plains Indians to treat insect and snake bites and wounds. It is also used to help fight colds. Always consult your doctor before taking herbal medicine.

Antimicrobial Effect

According to the writings of David Hoffmann in his book “The New Holistic Herbal,” echinacea helps the body eliminate microbial infections. Its effects work both on bacterial and viral attacks and can be used to treat sepsis, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a life-threatening condition linked to bacteria in the blood. Hoffmann also considers echinacea especially effective in treating microbial infections of the upper respiratory system. He recommends using the tincture–a glycerin- or alcohol-based extraction of the plant–diluted in water to treat gingivitis.

Externally, the antimicrobial effects of echinacea are beneficial in treating wounds and septic sores as well as rashes and burns.

Insecticidal Effect

According to Foster and Duke, scientific research confirms that echinacea has insecticidal effects, which means that it fights insect and snake poison in the skin after a bite or a sting. It is particularly considered an effective remedy for brown recluse spider bites.

Make a poultice with echinacea leaves by blending them with water to make a paste. Apply it directly to the affected area of skin. If you are in nature, simply chew on a few leaves and apply them to the insect bite.

Hyaluronidase Effect

According to Simon Mills in his book “The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism,” echinacea has hyaluronidase effects, which means that it lowers the viscocity of hyaluronic acid. This effect makes tissues more permeable and able to absorb the medicinal constituents of the plant and any other medications taken along with it.

Immunity-Enhancing Effect

According to the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing, The A-to-Z Guide to Supplements” by nutritional counselor Phyllis Balch, echinacea has an immunity-enhancing effect on the body, since it stimulates the reproduction of white blood cells. Balch notes that due to this effect, you should avoid echinacea if you have an auto-immune disorder and if you exhibit allergies to plants in the Compositae or sunflower family.

About this Author

Michelle Bush began writing in 1995. She has been published in the magazines “Cancunissimo,” “Mesa Visions” and on websites such as eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. Bush is a nutrition/counselor and herbalist and has experience in fitness, nutrition and yoga. She also founded a vegan cookie company. Bush holds an Associate of Arts in architecture from San Diego Mesa College.