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Echinacea 101

The colorful echinacea plant has become a household name, thanks to its amazing immune-boosting properties. More commonly known as “coneflower,” this all-American herb has also made its way to Europe, where it has become firmly integrated into Western herbal tradition. Our herbalists formulated Echinacea Plus® and Echinacea Plus® Elderberry teas, using Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia, two of the genus’ most medicinal plants. If you get a tingling sensation on your tongue when drinking them, you’ll know this herb’s beneficial compounds are working to support your immune system as they should.

All members of the Echinacea genus are perennials that bloom with both disk and ray flowers. The purple ray flowers attach to a round, high and spiky cone—hence its common name “purple coneflower.” Technically speaking, this cone is actually composed of hundreds of flowers, all tightly packed together, which is how the plant got its botanical name: echin, or Greek for “hedgehog.”

The entire Echinacea genus is indigenous to North America and originally dwelled in prairie lands, where Native American tribes had used three or more species of it as an all-purpose remedy for generations. In the mid-1800s, the American Eclectic physicians began to use echinacea, and its healing powers reached the Old World, where it gained even more popularity. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was one of the most frequently used herbal medicines in the United States, which eventually lead to the widespread overharvesting of this wild perennial. Fortunately, United Plant Savers works to restore native populations of plants, and echinacea is now cultivated in many different regions of the world.

When it comes to maintaining seasonal wellness, echinacea makes a fabulous supportive herb as we face the winter woes. The key to echinacea’s benefits lies deep in its compounds, which, depending on the species, are made up of alkylamides, polysaccharides, and glycoproteins—all of which contribute to the herb’s immune-boosting powers. It’s not surprising, then, that echinacea is one of the most well-studied and celebrated plants in herbalism today.

So when you’re feeling like you need a plant ally to give you a boost, think of echinacea. Our Echinacea Plus® is a great formula if you are in need of a simple herbal tea to boost your immune system so you can stay vibrant, active and well. Now when you see a beautiful echinacea flower while you are out and about, its radiant purple flowers and sturdy structure will remind you of just how powerful this plant really is.

Posted in Plants on November 12, 2014