Echinacea Purpurea – Echinacea Angustifolia: Uses, History, Morphology, Precautions and Characteristics

It is a medicinal plant widely used in North America.

Extracts of Echinacea Purpurea have traditionally been used in North America to treat various infections and wounds and have become popular herbal medicines worldwide.

Recent studies have revealed that specific standardized preparations contain potent and selective antiviral and antimicrobial activities.

In addition, they show multiple immunomodulatory activities, including the stimulation of specific immune functions such as the phagocytic activity of macrophages and the suppression of pro-inflammatory responses of epithelial cells to viruses and bacteria, which manifest as alterations in the secretion of various cytokines. And chemokines.

Echinacea Purpura

Standardized name: Echinacea Purpurea.

Echinacea Angustifolia

Standardized name: Echinacea Angustifolia.

Other names: Echinacea with narrow leaf, Kansas snakeroot, narrow leaf purple echinacea.


Botanical Name

Echinacea Angustifolia DC. Family of plants: Asteraceae.


Echinacea (or Echinacea) is one of the best-known medicinal herbs in American popular herbalism. They have been widely used by traditional herbalists and Native Americans alike in North America for generations.

Echinacea eventually gained popularity in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. One of its primary uses is to support immune function, although many historical uses were related to topical applications.

It is now one of the most widely available dietary supplements in health food stores and remains a topic of many scientific studies investigating its immune support properties.


Nine species of Echinacea are native to the United States and southern Canada, with much of the population centered in Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

These species are perennial members of the family of sunflowers or Asteraceae, preferring mainly the disturbed rocky soils in the open fields, in the meadows where they were along the railroad tracks.

The commercially available material is generally Echinacea Purpurea and Echinacea Angustifolia, but occasionally from E. pallida.

Echinacea Purpurea is a large shrub that grows between 4 and 5 feet tall. The leaves are broader than Echinacea Angustifolia, which has more angular and hairy leaves (the specific name refers to this, literally means “narrow leaf”) and grows to only about a foot in height.

The difference between E. pallida and E. Angustifolia is often confusing since both have light pink petals and similar or similar uses in medicine.

The genus Echinacea is derived from the Greek ‘chinos, ‘ which means hedgehog and refers to the appearance of the head of the spiny seed.

Crop and Harvest

E. purpura is the most widely cultivated Echinacea species, but little is now found in nature due to overexploitation.

E. pallida and E. Angustifolia are much more challenging to grow. And, as a curious fact, in shops, the preparations of E. pallida are incorrectly labeled as “Echinacea Angustifolia,” which is an obvious error.

Morphology of Echinacea Púrpurea and other aspects

The Purple Echinacea grows naturally in open wooded areas. The plant has beautiful purple petals with a brown, prickly, or mid-sized pistil. The petals are often inclined to the side of the thorny, cone-shaped center.

The flower leaves have a rough texture and have tiny hairs. However, they do not always have inches. The leaves can have from 1 to 5 nerves present in odd numbers.

Visitors to their habitat can often find flowers that sway in the wind in the meadows or prairie land.

The plant usually reaches up to 140 cm in height. Echinacea Purrpurea is hermaphrodite, which means that it has male and female parts associated with the plant.

Bees and butterflies contribute to the pollination process. The flower thrives when the daily temperature fluctuates. Seed germination is best promoted in this type of environment.

Echinacea has many incredible medicinal properties that increase the immune system. The plant has also been used to work as an antidepressant.


Echinacea was used extensively by Native Americans and by traditional herbalists in the United States and Canada. One of the first written stories was about an equestrian from Louisiana that used this herb topically on horses.

According to the ethnobotanical work “Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region,” written in 1914 by Melvin Gilmore: “Echinacea has been used as a remedy for ailments more than any other plant.”

Many tribes, including the Pawnee, Dakota, and Omaha-Winnebego, blindly trusted this plant. Therefore, it was used for situations ranging from swellings to distemper in horses.

This healing herb was administered as a fresh juice. That is to say; Echinacea was traditionally used for many years as a means to support and restore the immune system and also as topical use.

Many eclectic physicians in the United States popularized Echinacea in the late 1800s, showing particular interest in E. Angustifolia.

John Uri Lloyd and John King were the central defenders of this herb, extolling its virtues throughout the world for several years until it became something ordinary, being widely used.

However, eclectic schools began to be closed in the mid-1930s, to the point that the popularity and demand for Echinacea declined in the United States. This “fashion” was lost until the 1970s, when herbalists resurrected it.

However, during this time, E. Purpurea gained recognition in Germany. Ironically, E. Angustifolia was the species that most traditional herbalists and Native Americans used medicinally, but E. Purpurea was the species that the Germans investigated and became the most popular first in Europe and then in the United States.

Thus, the species with the most justified historical evidence had little scientific research. As the story goes, in the 1950s, the Swiss physician Naturopathic Dr. Vogel came to the USA. To study Echinacea in South Dakota.

He brought the seeds back believing they were from E. Angustifolia and gave them to a German doctor who planted them and made the medicine. It was soon discovered that the species was E. Purpurea, so it became popular and widely studied in Europe.

The Purple Echinacea can be found in the Ataracea family. The flowers are herbaceous plants. Echinacea is a genus of nine species of this particular family. The name originates from the Greek word “chinos,” which means hedgehog (in Spanish).

The name refers to the central part with the tip of the flower, Cone Flower (Coneflower and Spanish), the common name, was given because the middle part resembles a cone when the petals are folded down.

The plant blooms early in late summer. The flower is sown again in the fall.

Although the plant’s primary use is for medicinal purposes, many people also use the attractive plant to decorate their gardens. In addition, the Purple Echinacea usually has a long life.

Influence of Native Americans

Historically, the North American Indians of the plains used the flower of the cone Púrpurea or Echinacea for medicinal purposes. Historians have found evidence pointing to the use of the flower to treat snake bites and anthrax and relieve pain.

The Kiowa and Cheyenne tribes used the flower to cure cough and throat ailments. The Pawnees used the flower for headaches. The Sioux tribes used the flower to prepare an analgesic.

In contrast, the Native Americans discovered the medicinal plant after observing the moose in the wild. That is to say, after being wounded or sick, the elk looked for the plants and consumed them.

By the 1930s, Echinacea became a popular remedy in several regions, including Europe and North America.

Urban legends or myths associated with Echinacea

Long before pharmaceuticals were introduced into modern society, herbal remedies played a significant role in the lives of our ancestors.

Although most pharmaceuticals come from herbs, most Americans and other modern cultures prefer drugs rather than spices.

Recent research in Europe has led many modern cultures to reconsider the healing powers of plants in their natural form.

Some common myths associated with the use of Echinacea are listed below:

Myth: Echinacea could be toxic to the liver due to alkaloids.

Fact: Echinacea contains only minimal amounts of alkaloids. Therefore, it is not toxic to the liver unless consumed in extremely high doses.

This fact was confirmed in the study of Bauer and Wagner on Research of Medicinal and Economic Plants.

Myth: Echinacea loses its effectiveness after five days of consumption.

Reality: according to a German study carried out in 1989, a residual effect was produced after its use for approximately two days. During consumption, the phagocytosis process increases. After seven days, phagocytosis levels returned to normal.

Myth: Echinacea does not significantly reduce the duration of fever, symptoms, or the effects of upper respiratory infections.

In 2003, the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Echinacea Purrpurea significantly reduced the effects of upper respiratory infections in children.

In addition, studies show that Echinacea reduces the possibility of future respiratory infections. This was determined after a four-month trial.

Myth: Echinacea can exacerbate conditions such as tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, HIV, and other autoimmune diseases.

Reality: there is no conclusive evidence. However, people with these conditions have experienced side effects on rare occasions.

In 1995, modern physiotherapists suggested that individuals with these conditions may experience an inadequate response due to the infectious microorganisms associated with the diseases.

However, Echinacea may help eliminate the presence of some of these microorganisms. Although there is no evidence of adverse effects, doctors advise this group not to use Echinacea.

Myth: Echinacea promotes congenital disabilities in babies.

Fact: According to an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, there is no conclusive evidence that Echinacea is associated with an increased risk of congenital disabilities.

Echinacea improved the upper respiratory tract symptoms in more than 80 percent of pregnant women involved in the study. The study consisted of 206 pregnant women.

Studies continue to determine the efficacy of Echinacea in the fight against cancer. However, experts suggest that Echinacea may be beneficial in this role.

Many people consume Echinacea to boost their immune system and combat the fatigue associated with cancer.

Herbal Action

Immune substance, depurative, vulnerary, lymphatic, sialagogue.


  • Root fresh or dried as a tea or tincture or powder and encapsulated.
  • All external parts are new or dried as a tea or tincture or powder and encapsulated.
  • Juice of fresh plants.


Specific: People with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family should be careful with Echinacea due to the presence of Echinacea pollen.

General: We recommend that you consult a health professional.

Before using herbal products, mainly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on any medication.

Difference between Echinacea Angustifolia and Echinacea Purpurea

Echinacea Angustifolia

When you hear or read: elk root, Echinacea of ​​black Samson, or Echinacea Purple of narrow leaf, such names refer to Echinacea Angustifolia. Its native range extends from the North in Manitoba, Canada, to Texas in the South.

It is a herbaceous plant, like all echinacea species. It grows up to 28 inches, extending from a ramified branch root. Its stems and leaves are hairy, while other species are smooth. Its flowers look like a cone.

Echinacea Purpurea

Eastern Purple Echinacea, or simply Purple Echinacea, refers to Echinacea Purpurea that enjoys a wide distribution in North America. However, they thrive in large concentrations in the wild in regions near the east coast.

Unlike other echinacea species, it grows from a woody base with fibrous roots instead of a pivoting root. Its flowers are arranged in a cone, sitting on a stem that grows up to 40 inches.

Now, the commonplace that unites them is their therapeutic medicinal use and their positive reception for years by native North American settlers.

How is Echinacea processed for consumption?

The manufacturing process of Echinacea is challenging to control due to the extraction method. This phenomenon is partly due to pollution or other factors that degrade the herb’s potency.

People who want to make Echinacea at home will probably form a tincture. A tincture is a liquid form of an herb used for medicinal treatment.

The Echinacea can ideally be a domestic plant and be used in different ways, that is to say, in an aesthetic form and as a medicine.