Echinacea angustifolia (DC.)

Common Name
Echinacea
Plant Family
Compositae
Part used
Root
Chemical constituents
Significant phytochemicals include echinacin, echinacoside, essential oils, inulin,
polyacetylenes, and polysacharides (10)
Pharmacy
480 grains to the fluid ounce alcohol 65%. Dose: gtt 5 to one dram in water every 4 hours. (11)


History
Western tribes of North America used Echinacea angustifolia to treat venomous bites (insect
and snake) and a collection of infections. As colonial expansion spread westward, the settlers
encountered the drug as a cure for potentially lethal rattlesnake bite and, as a result, it became a
popular domestic remedy. At the same time, medicine show healers and snake oil salesmen
used it as a miracle cure for a wide variety of complaints. The association with these charlatans
hindered the drug?s passing into serious medical circles.
In time, it came to the attention of the Eclectic practitioners. Though at first they were wary of
the drug, they gave it trial. Initially, they used it in simple infections. As Eclectic confidence in
the drug grew, it became the standard treatment for the prevention, cure, and control of
infection. Indeed, the Eclectics were reported to have an above average record of treating
infectious disease, which they achieved using Echinacea. The Eclectics greatly increased the
understanding of the drug and, in time, introduced it to the greater medical community.


Traditional Eclectic uses
Actions
Alterative, tonic, anti?zymotic, antiseptic, anti?fermentative, corrector of depraved states of the
blood, corrects downward action of fluid, restores proper blood making, secretion, excretion,
and innervation, acts as an antiferment, corrects physiological abnormalities associated with
chronic disease, corrects abnormalities of body temperature, counteracts the depressing effects
of sedatives, averts pulmonary and other forms of gangrene.


Indications
“To correct fluid depravation, ‘bad blood,’ tendency to sepsis and malignancy, as in gangrene, sloughing
and phagedenic ulceration’s, carbuncles, boils, and various forms of septicaemia; foul discharges, with
weakness and emaciation; deepened, bluish or purplish coloration of skin or mucous membranes, with a
low form of inflammation; dirty?brownish tongue; jet?black tongue; tendency to the formation of multiple
cellular abscesses of semi?active character, with marked asthenia. Of especial importance in typhoid,
septicaemic and other adynamic fevers, and in malignant carbuncle, pulmonary gangrene, cerebra?spinal
meningitis and pyosalpinx. Echafolta is advised as a cleansing wash in surgical operations, and to annul
the pain of and to deodorize carcinomata.” (8)


General
General debilitated habit, tendency to infection, blood depravity (internal infection) or external
noxious agent (bites), strumous diathesis, syphilis, primary and secondary diphtheria, typhoid
conditions, septic phase of typhoid, blood poisoning, syphilitic diathesis, ulceration with
profuse secretion, tendency to systemic poisoning, breath offensive, dusky coloured mucous
membranes, profuse acid saliva, tendency to gangrene and sloughing, weakness and
emaciation, disorders of the blood (syphilis, scrofula, chronic ulceration), spinal meningitis,
puerperal fever, adynamic fevers, fevers of septic infection and rheumatic attacks, intermittent,
remittent, congestive, continued and typhoid fevers, ague, malaria, chronic malaria, typhomalarial
fevers, malignant diphtheria, malignant blood poisoning with marked exhaustion,
extensive exudation and sloughing of the fauces, blood depravation manifesting as sloughing of
tissues, mountain fever, infections following exposure to sewer gas, dynamic fevers,
perityphilitis, follicular tonsillitis, Tonsilitis, sthenic and asthenic conditions, epidemic
influenza, debility associated with influenza, eruptive fevers (chicken pox, small pox, measles,
scarlet fever), scarlatinal angina, tetanus, anthrax, infections introduced by vaccination, debility
caused by vaccination, stings of wasps and bees, snake or rabid dog bites, poison ivy, noxious
plants, cancer, mucous membrane cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer, cancerous cachexia.


Digestive
Cholera infantum, diarrhoea with nausea and vomiting, profuse and bad smelling discharge,
diseases of the stomach, cholera morbus, ulcers of the throat, haemorrhoids, dysentery,
unhealthy conditions of the mouth and throat, appendicitis, ulcerated sore throat, dyspepsia
with pain and great distress upon eating, dyspepsia of long standing, indigestion, lack of
appetite, fermantative dyspepsia with offensive breath and gastric pain, duodenal catarrh,
intestinal indigestion with pain and debility, ulcerative stomatitis, nursing sore mouth,
diarrhoea, dysentery, semi?inflammatory type of dysentery with a tendency to malignancy,
typhilitis, perityphilitis, abdominal and pelvic operations into which an organ has discharged
septic material, incurable ulcerative colitis, digestive tract mucous membrane abnormalities.


Endocrine
Diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus.


Genito?urinary
Inflammation of the male and female urethra, erythematous vulvitis, erysipelas vulvitis,
erysipelas vulvitis of strumous children, inflammation of the vagina, gonorrhoea, leucorrhea,
ulceration of the os uteri, purulent salpingitis, dropsy following scarlatina, uraemic poisonings.


Musculoskeletal
Rheumatism, articular rheumatism, rheumatic attacks, phlebitis, infections of the muscles
threatening or causing gangrene, phlegmansia alba dolens.


Nervous
Nervous headache, pain associated with skin conditions (rhus poisoning, erysipelas, etc.), pain
of cancerous growths on mucous membranes (cancer of the throat).


Respiratory
Pneumonia, catarrh, nasal catarrh, pharyngeal catarrh, chronic catarrh, affections of the nose,
naso?pharynx, other portions of the respiratory tract, black tongue, ulcerated, fetid mucous
surfaces, dusky or dark coloration with chronic debilitated habit, chronic catarrhal bronchitis,
fetid bronchitis, pulmonary gangrene, typhoid pneumonia, tubercular phthisis, stone cutters or
grinders consumption, tubercular diathesis.


Skin
Old sores and wounds, foul phagedenic ulcers, ulcers, purplish skin with bluish shining
appearance, vesicular eruptions, viscid exudations, painful superficial irritations, burning of
surface, erysipelas, boils, carbuncles, ulcers of the lower extremities, pus filled cavities,
conditions with superficial irritation of acute and painful nature, chaffing, erythema,
predisposition to irritable states resulting in skin irritations, formation of multiple cellular
abscesses, eczema, skin diseases of systemic origin, milk crust, acne, scald head, chronic
ulceration’s of the leg, tubercular abscesses, gangrene, empyema, phlegmonous swellings, old
sores, erysipelas with sloughing phagedena, dissecting surgical wounds, phlegmasia dolens,
dermatitis venenata, cellular abscesses with haemorrhage diarrhoea, malignant carbuncle,
painful mammitis, chronic inflammation of the mammary gland, syphilitic ulcers of the mouth,
throat and tongue, chronic eczema with glutinous exudations associated with asthenia and
general depravity, psoriasis, psoriasis following vaccination, bed sores, fever sores, old tibial
ulcers, chronic glandular indurations, scrofulous and syphilitic nodules, alopecia.


The drug from Selye’s perspective
State of Resistance
The drug was used to raise resistance to primary syphilis, diphtheria, typhoid conditions, spinal
meningitis, puerperal fever, septic fevers, smallpox, measles, rabies, mountain fever, sewer gas
fever, tonsillitis, influenza, chicken pox, scarlet fever, tetanus, anthrax, gonorrhoea, blood
depravity (bacteria or bile), general debilitated habit, tendency to systemic poisoning, tendency
to infection, tuberculosis, adynamic fevers, rheumatic fever, intermittent, remittent, congestive,
continued or typhoid fevers, septic phase of typhoid fever, malaria, malignant diphtheria,
influenza, vaccination, rheumatism, diabetes, dropsy following scarlet fever, stone grinders
consumption, pneumonia, snake and insect bites.


State of Exhaustion
The drug was also used when resistance could no longer be maintained and State of Exhaustion
set in. Signs of State of Exhaustion remedied with the drug included debility, strumous
diathesis, tendency to infections, mucous membrane ulceration with profuse excretion,
tendency to gangrene, sloughing away and emaciation, ague, ulcerative colitis, respiratory
ulceration, phthisis, consumption, old sores and wounds, erysipelas, old tibial ulcers, bed sores,
chronic glandular indurations, cachexia, and temperature abnormalities. Diseases causing the
State of Exhaustion were also treated with this drug including syphilis, malaria, tuberculosis,
and cancer.


Adaptation Energy
Seen from Selye’s perspective, the drug was used to augment the GAS, which suggests it
increases adaptation energy. The Eclectics saw Echinacea as the ultimate stimulant to the
preservative capacity and it was prescribed when the body needed to mount resistance to an
infection. The drug was used to stimulate healing in fresh wounds and non?healing ulcers and
sores. If a person had a wound from a dissection, had been exposed to sewer gas, or had been
bitten by a mad dog, the drug was used. In fact, the drug was employed to increase resistance to
almost all known bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. The drug was also used when the body
was no longer able to resist a chronic infection and State of Exhaustion commenced.


Brekhman’s adaptogen criterion
First Criteria:
The drug is considered innocuous both in Eclectic and contemporary literature. (1–10)


Second Criteria:
Clinically the drug was used to raise resistance to acute and chronic infections, autoimmune
disease (rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis), and cancer. (1–9)
Experimentally, compounds found in the drug have been shown to directly increase resistance
to bacterial (Staph, Strep), viral (influenza, HIV), fungal (Candida), and protozoan infection.
They have also been shown to indirectly increase resistance to the same via immune
stimulation. Moreover, the compounds have been shown to increase resistance to cancer,
Carcinogenesis, liver and free radical damage. (10)


Third Criteria:
Clinically the drug was used to normalise abnormal function associated with State of
Exhaustion. It was also used to normalise immune function (hyper, auto, or hypo) and to
normalise healing capacity when the ability had been lost. (1–9)
Experimentally, the drug contains constituents that have been shown to normalise a host of
physiological functions including excessive gastric acidity, membrane permeability
abnormalities, abnormal inflammation, abnormal immune function, hyperlipidemia,
hypercholesterolemia, hyperglycaemia, and hypertension. (10)


Eco?availability
The drug is readily raised.


Discussion
Clearly, Echinacea angustifolia exhibits properties consistent with Brekhman’s definition of an
adaptogen. Beyond this, the drug is one of the most popular herbal medicine s. Indeed, it offers
the medical thinker a different perspective on infectious disease prevention.
At the moment, the medical community relies on vaccination to protect people from infections.
This is problematic. In part because vaccinations have risks and, in part because a vaccination
only protects a person against one infection. There are so many potential infections, vaccinating
people against the infectious threat of the day is a time consuming, cumbersome and expensive
endeavour.
Echinacea angustifolia, on the other hand, offers increased resistance to any and all microbes
the body encounters. By increasing immune function, the body has an increased ability to resist
any microbe that requires neutralisation. It is the non?specificity of Echinacea, and drugs like it,
that makes it so interesting. In addition, Echinacea angustifolia represents another divergence
from standard infection prevention practices. This drug garners the bodies own defence
mechanisms and encourages the body to do what it was meant to do. In other words, Echinacea
works with the body to encourage enhanced self?protection.
Potential clinical applications
There is evidence suggesting Echinacea angustifolia may have a role in preventing epidemic
infectious disease. There is also evidence the drug may have a role in preventing infectioninduced
collapse.


Future research
• The effect of Echinacea angustifolia on the GAS. The drug should be tested out in the
animal model to determine its specific effect on the GAS.
• Echinacea angustifolia and biological warfare. Contemporary research indicates that
the drug is an immune stimulant, increasing both immune cell counts and immune cell
activity. The drug offers increased non?specific resistance to microbial infection and its
use in increasing resistance to biological warfare should be examined.
• Echinacea angustifolia and infection induced State of Exhaustion. Used when State of
Exhaustion sets in, its clinical indications perfectly match the profile of an organism in
collapse. Its role in State of Exhaustion in diseases like HIV and hepatitis C should be
examined.


References for Echinacea angustifolia
1. Neiderkorn, JS. The Physicians and Students Ready Guide to Specific Medication. The
Little Printing Company. Bradford, Ohio. 1892. P. 8.
2. Watkins, Lyman. An Eclectic Compendium of the Practice of Medicine. John
M.Scudder’s Sons. Cincinnati. 1895. P. 43.
3. Webster, HT. Dynamical Therapeutics—A work devoted to the Theory and Practice of
Specific Medication with special references to the newer remedies. Webster Medical
Publishing Company. Oakland. Second Edition. 1898. P. 69, 146, 255, 399, 479, 545.
4. Felter, Harvey Wickes and Lloyd, John Uri. Kings’ American Dispensatory. Volume one
and Volume two. Ohio Valley Company. Cincinnati. 1898. P. 671.
5. Felter, Harvey. Syllabus of Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Compiled from
notes taken from the lectures of F.J.Locke. Edited with pharmacological additions by
H.W.Felter. Second edition, with appendix. Scudder Brothers Company.
Cincinnati.1901. P. 418.
6. Neiderkorn, JS. A Handy Reference Book. Published for the Author. Cincinnati. 1905. P.
22.
7. Peterson, F.J. Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics. Published by the Author. Los
Olivos, California. 1905. P. 83.
8. Fyfe, John William. Pocket Essentials of Modern Materia Medica and Therapeutics. The
Scudder Brothers Company. 1903. P. 108.
9. Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy.
Ellingwood’s Therapeutist. Chicago. 1919. P. 358.
10. Dr. DukesPhytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Agricultural Research Service.
USDA.
11. Lloyd Brothers. Dosebook of Specific Medicines. Lloyd Brothers. Cincinatti. 1930.