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Echinacea


Nutrient description/background:
  • A perennial herb that grows up to 45 centimeters in height;
  • The taste is slightly sweet, then bitter leaving a tingling sensation on the tongue;
  • Grows in the middle or eastern United States and is cultivated in Europe;
  • Other names include: Black Sampson, Hedgehog, Purple Coneflower, Red Sunflower, Rudbeckia and Sampson Root.

Nutrient function:
  • Used internally as supportive therapy for common colds, chronic infections of the respiratory tract and lower urinary tract, and for influenza-like infections.

DRI/RDA:
  • Studies have recommended a daily dose of 900 milligrams;
  • The drug should be used for a maximum of 8 weeks;
  • People with HIV/AIDS, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis and rheumatologic diseases should not take this supplement.

Food sources:
  • Echinacea Purpurea herbs;
  • Echinacea Purpurea juices.

Indications/Health claims:
  • Cures: abscesses, acne, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bacterial infections, bee stings, boils, burn wounds, diphtheria, dizziness, eczema, gingivitis, gum inflammation, hemorrhoids, herpes labialis, HIV/AIDS, influenza, malaria, menopause, migraine headaches, mouth sores, nasal congestion/runny nose, pain, psoriasis, rheumatism, skin ulcers, snake bites, stomach upset, syphilis, tonsillitis, typhoid, urinary disorders, urinary tract infections and whooping cough.
  • For URI treatment, numerous human trials have found the herb to reduce duration and severity, particularly when initiated at the earliest onset of symptoms.
  • Topical Echinacea Purpurea juice has been suggested for skin and oral wound healing.
  • Long term use of this herb may cause low white blood cell counts.

Evidence for or against claims:
  • Clinical trials reported in July 2005 did not demonstrate any clinical benefit for Echinacea.
  • In 2006, an investigation of the efficacy of Echinacea found that the likelihood of experiencing a cold was 55 percent higher with a placebo than with Echinacea.
  • In tests of Echinacea Purpurea, toxic cellular effects were seen only at very high, clinically irrelevant concentrations.