Echinacea

Synonyms: Pale coneflower, pale-flowered echinacea
Scientific Name: Echinacea pallida
Family: Daisy family (Asteraceae)

Habitat

The pale-purple coneflower is a native of North America where it is found on the dry prairies of the southern states from Alabama to Texas. It is also found in the sparse deciduous forests of the central and eastern states of the USA.

Constituents

Echinacin, essential oil, resins, bitter substances, phytosterols, inulin, polysaccharides and the bacteriostatic echinacoside.

Description

The native American echinacea blooms from June to September, transforming our gardens into a pink and purple sea of blossom throughout almost the entire summer. In Europe it is cultivated mainly as an ornamental plant and can grow to a height of up to one meter (three feet). At the top of the stem is a single large flowerhead which is quite impressive. The tension between the brownish-orange tubular disc flowers and the pinkish-purple ray flowers is one of the main features of its unconventional beauty. In full bloom, the 15 to 20 drooping ligulate ray flowers surround the conically arched seed head like the brim of a hat. Another outstanding feature of the pale-purple coneflower is its astonishing pattern of scent production. When it begins to flower and the tongues of the ray flowers are pointed upwards, the flower has practically no scent. In full bloom, the tongues are bent back and droop rather limply. Now the flower exudes a fine honey-like fragrance which attracts bees, butterflies and other insects. As soon as the disc flowers have been pollinated by the busy helpers the perfume takes on a vanilla-like aroma. On windy days in particular, the almost walnut-sized flowerhead needs the full strength of the slender, hairy stem. The lance-shaped leaves of the coneflower are also rough and hairy. In North America the tap-rooted plant, which extends its root deep into the earth, grows particularly on the dry chalky soil of the prairies and

on sandbanks. In Europe the pale-purple coneflower is successfully cultivated on almost all garden soils.

Uses

In the cold season echinacea is taken internally to aid in the prevention and treatment of colds and flu-like infections. The nonspecific stimulation of the immune system supports and enhances the natural defenses giving the body greater power to ward off different types of pathogens. Echinacea is often used internally to support the treatment of recurrent infections. We owe our knowledge about the uses of echinacea largely to the North American Indians. It was one of their most important herbs and was used traditionally to heal fevers, insect bites, and poorly healing wounds. Echinacea has practically no relevance for the preparation of teas as most of its constituents are lost on drying.

Interesting Facts

The scientific name of the pale-purple coneflower comes from the Greek 'echinos' = hedgehog, and appropriately describes the spiny appearance of the flowerhead. At the end of the 19th century, white settlers in North America discovered the importance of the pale-purple coneflower, which had long been used by the Indians as medicinal plant. The homeopath Dr. Meyer watched an Indian woman crush an echinacea plant between stones. She also showed him how he could treat wounds and injuries with the fresh plant pulp. Around 1870 he put the world's first echinacea preparation on the market in the mid-west of the USA under the name 'Meyer's Blood Purifier'. Initially he did not even know the name of the medicinal plant which was so successful in the treatment of numerous complaints. He later had it identified by Lloyd Brothers in Cincinnati, the largest suppliers of herbal drugsproducts in North America at that time. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century there was such a boom in the sale of echinacea that it became the most frequently sold herbal preparationdrug in the USA.

The Plant at Dr. Hauschka Skin Care

For the production of extracts, the entire echinacea flowering stems are harvested from the biodynamic herb garden of WALA Heilmittel GmbH in July and the roots in the winter.

Echinacea is found in Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner and Labimint Acute Lip Care to fortify and support balanced skin.

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