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Ehinacea purpurea

jezowkanspEhinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) and two other plants of the species, i.e. Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower) and Echinacea pallida (pale purple coneflower), is used in medicine as an important ingredient of numerous immunostimulating preparations.

What does Echinacea purpurea look like and where does it come from?

Echinacea purpurea is very characteristic in appearance. It occurs as a tuft of purple flowers with typical flower head atop of the stem which has little leaves. The Echinacea root has a relatively wide cross section and interestingly enough, it is edible.

Ehinacea purpurea is deemed to have originated from North America.

Medical substance content in Ehinacea purpurea

The root of Ehinacea purpurea contains alkylamides, phenolic acid esters, polysaccharides and low concentrations of alkaloids. Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida feature slightly different compositions. It can be assumed, however, that the three species have a virtually identical therapeutic action.

Echinacea purpurea extract and its effect on the human body

The polysaccharides and alkylamides in Echinacea purpurea stimulate the immune cells, namely, macrophages and granulocytes. The cells are responsible for seeking and eliminating pathogenic microorganisms (mainly bacteria) that try to invade the human body. If the performance of macrophages and granulocytes is further boosted by an extract of Echinacea purpurea, then the struggle for the condition colloquially termed as "healthy" becomes definitely easier.

Apart from immunostimulation, Echinacea purpurea is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral. Thanks to these properties, the extracts of Echinacea purpurea can be used internally (the medicine Echinapur tablets) and externally (Echinapur ointment).

Therapeutic indications for Echinacea purpurea extracts

The main indication for Echinacea purpurea are conditions of compromised immunity (typical for the majority of people during early spring and early winter). Temperature variations, chill and overheating are the main factors that facilitate invasion of microorganisms present in the human environment. The extract of Echinacea purpurea stimulates the immune cells to reinforce the natural defence response. Poor immunity of the body is particularly evident in children and elderly persons. Children do not necessarily comply with the rule of clean hands and thus become exposed to direct contact with microbes. The adolescent immune mechanisms are still underdeveloped. Elderly persons are frequently the victims of other disorders which may additionally compromise immunity.

The extract of Echinacea purpurea is currently used in the treatment of dermatitis, ulceration, burns, eczema, herpes and poorly healing wounds (e.g. the Echinapur medicinal ointment). Echinacea purpurea extracts have been enjoying increased use in cosmetics. The capacity of the extract to deactivate the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of hyaluronan (hialuronic acid) helps maintain the elasticity of the skin to the desired level. Intensified repair processes and elimination of microbial cells favour faster regeneration of the skin. The antioxidant action of extracts (i.e. fighting the harmful effect of free oxygen radicals) contributes to the inhibition of skin ageing.

Can everyone use Echinacea purpurea extracts?

The extract of Echinacea purpurea can be safely administered to persons over 12 years of age. It can also be used in younger children if no contraindications are specified by a doctor.

There are still those for whom it is not recommended to give preparations based on extracts from Echinacea purpurea. These include persons with autoimmune diseases, HIV carriers, patients undergoing treatment based on reduction of immunological response (chemotherapy) and persons allergic to extracts of Echinacea purpurea.

 

Products containing Ehinacea purpurea

Reumaherb®

Reumaherb®

Arthritis

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