Echinacea Angustifolia is believed to be the most powerful natural antibiotic. Echinacea's antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal qualities help to stimulate the body's resistance to infection, diseases, fever, blood poisoning, common colds and flu. Echinacea Angustifolia is the "must-have" herb in your herbal medicine cabinet.
Three species of the Echinacea herb are useful in medicine: Echinacea augustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinacea pallida. Research has shown that Echinacea increases production of interferon in the body, which helps increase antiviral activity against influenza (flu) and herpes, an inflammation of the skin and mouth. It is antiseptic and antimicrobial, with properties that act to increase the number of white blood cells available to destroy bacteria and slow the spread of infection. This herb is thought to be an immune stimulant. Taking this herb at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms can actually shorten the term of a cold or even abort it when caught early enough.
|Echinacea Species And Their Active Ingredients
By Heidi Li, NOW Methods Department
Echinacea herbal medicines are traditionally used for treatment of inflammatory and viral diseases such as cold, cough and upper respiratory infections. Recent studies show that they can also be used as antioxidants or free radical terminators to prevent cardiovascular disease, arthritis and aging. In fact, Echinacea has become one of the most widely used herbal medicines and dietary supplements in Europe, North America, and Australia.
The parts of Echinacea used in herbal medicines are the roots and aerial parts of three species: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea. angustifolia and Echinacea pallida. The main active compounds of Echinacea are caffeic acid derivatives (phenolic compounds), alkamides and polysaccharides. Among caffeic acid derivatives, several components, such as caftaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, echinacoside and chichoric acid, are identified from Echinacea extracts. Chicoric acid is the major phenolic compound in E. purpurea, but minor in E. angustifolia and E. pallida. Echinacoside is the main phenolic compound in E. angustifolia and E. pallida, but only trace is found in E. purpurea.
Studies have shown that chichoric acid has immunostimulating effects, as well as antioxidant properties. Recently, it has been found to inhibit HIV-1 replication. Echinacoside does not contribute its immunostimulating activity, but it has antioxidant and cicatrizing activities.
The pharmacological activity of each Echinacea species appears to reflect the slight variation in the amount of active ingredients and their chemical profiles. All three species of Echinacea are found to have a protective effect on the free radical-induced degradation of collagen, which is probably due to its polyphenolic compounds. Extracts of E. purpurea roots have greater free radical scavenging capacity than those of E. pallida or E. angustifolia due to more amounts of phenolics constitute found in E. purpurea. E. purpurea is also well known to boost the immune system in prevention of common cold, flu and chronic respiratory infections because it is rich in cichoric acid.