The Health Benefits of Echinacea

by Melissa Chichester

One of the most highly regarded wellness herbs is echinacea.

Native to North America, echinacea grows wild throughout the United States and in Ontario, Canada. It is especially concentrated in the Ozarks region. 

Known as purple coneflower or the hedgehog coneflower, echinacea is a popular choice for colorful gardens because it is a hardy plant that attracts butterflies. But echinacea also has another important function: it plays a role in supporting immune health.* 

Echinacea’s unique history

“Echinacea” comes from the Greek word “ekhinos,” which means sea urchin. This is a nod to its spiny center. Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia are the species of plants traditionally used for health purposes. 

Native Americans, especially in the Great Plains, highly regarded echinacea for wellness, with the roots, leaves, seeds, and flowers all being used for health purposes. The Lakota tribe even used echinacea’s spiky center as a comb. Plus, the flowers were chewed during sacred sweat lodge ceremonies. 

By 1887, echinacea had become a topic of interest in the medical community, particularly the American Eclectics. By the early 20th century, echinacea was the most frequently used herbal health supplement in the United States. 

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Echinacea flower is a leading immune support herb

Echinacea health benefits 

Echinacea has become one of the world’s leading herbs for immune support.* The phytonutrients found within echinacea are believed to support the immune system.* Phytonutrients occur naturally in plants to help protect them, but they can also have health-supporting properties for humans.

In supplement form, echinacea is available in a liquid form and in whole-herb capsules. It is often combined with goldenseal, another immune support herb traditionally used by Native Americans.* Plus, goldenseal contains two important alkaloids, hydrastine, and berberine.

Other echinacea uses 

Echinacea is also used in culinary arts. The petals, which are edible, are often added to savory and sweet foods for color. And even more popular is delicious echinacea tea! Puritan’s Pride Echinacea Complex capsules can be broken open and used to prepare tea. On its own, echinacea is very strong. Many people describe it as leaving behind a tingling sensation, which is surprising to some people. To improve its taste, echinacea is often combined with complementary herbs such as mint and lemongrass to make it smoother. 

Interested in other immune support herbs? Shop our selection here!