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Health benefits of Echinacea purpurea (conflower)



Echinacea purpurea, a flower is commonly known as coneflower, has been widely known for many of its properties and health benefits, from the most commonly known as the treatment of common colds, to others not so popular as the use of Echinacea for the treatment of acne, to treat dizziness, snake bites and as an anti-infective agent until the advent of modern antibiotics.

The most common use of Echinacea has been as a prophylactic treatment for upper respiratory infection [6]. Echinacea extracts possessed significant antiviral activity [1].

Many have been the treatments and remedies claimed to be effective against skin related problems as acne, a skin condition caused by inflammation that is mostly experienced during adolescence but that may also happen at later stages in life.

We have published some of  these traditional herbal remedies in recent articles, however, it hasn't been until recently that we read about other possible traditional herbal remedies to fight acne, namely the use of Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflower).


Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Echinacea

Common name: Eastern purple coneflower, Purple coneflower, red sunflower and rudbeckia.



The botanical genus Echinacea is native to North America, where indigenous peoples used various echinacea preparations for many different illnesses [5].

Some of these uses benefited from active constituents and chemicals found in Echinacea that were absolutely unknown to the indigenous. Science has helped us to understand better which ones were those active constituents and the properties they exerted. Let's have a look at some of them. 



In order to understand some of the Echinacea purpurea properties we should mention that extracts of Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflower) were recently discovered to exert powerful antiviral and anti-microbial activity [1], together with the anti-inflammatory properties demonstrated by Echinacea purpurea, this is probably one of the reasons why some herbal remedies mention it as part of their anti-acne remedies.

Among the most common types of Echinacea purpurea we can mention the Echinacea purpurea Magnus and Bravado, but others as the Echinacea purpurea white swan are also very beautiful and very characteristic. This last one resembles the very well known Matricaria recutita also known as German chamomile, for its white petals and shape.

An Echinacea preparation was tested for anti-inflammatory activity in cell culture models Echinacea extracts can inhibit the proliferation of these parasites and at least, one can reverse the pro-inflammatory activity of Leishmania donovani [4].



But vaccines and anti-virals are only some of the commercially available options to fight viral infections, other natural remedies as Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower, Purple coneflower) exerting antiviral properties, have showed effectiveness in H1N1-type pandemic strains of swine origin (S-OIV), as the one appearing in April 2009.

Detailed studies on Echinacea purpurea extracts showed how the extract interferes with the viral entry into cells [3], in contrast with known anti-virals that produced resistant viruses upon infection and passaging.



In another study, Echinacea purpurea extracts incorporated into cream and gel for the treatment of skin irritation, hydration level and wrinkle reduction, showed to be effective, decreasing the wrinkles, increasing hydration levels and all that without irritating the skin [2].

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more info.



[1] Applications of the Phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in Infectious Diseases. Hudson JB. Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 3J5.
[2] Skin improvement and stability of Echinacea purpurea dermatological formulations. Yotsawimonwat S, Rattanadechsakul J, Rattanadechsakul P, Okonogi S. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
[3] Anti-viral properties and mode of action of standardized Echinacea purpurea extract against highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1, H7N7) and swine-origin H1N1 (S-OIV). Pleschka S, Stein M, Schoop R, Hudson JB. Institute for Medical Virology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Giessen, Germany.
[4] Echinacea and trypanasomatid parasite interactions: growth-inhibitory and anti-inflammatory effects of Echinacea. Canlas J, Hudson JB, Sharma M, Nandan D. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
[5] From rudbeckia to echinacea: the emergence of the purple cone flower in modern therapeutics. Flannery MA. Lloyd Library & Museum, Cincinnati, OH.
[6] Echinacea. Kligler B. Department of Family Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
[7] House dust mite allergy--living with the invisible roommates. Pevec B, Pevec MR, Marković AS, Batista I. Department of Clinical Immunology, Pulmonology and Rheumatology, Sveti Duh University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia.