Results of archeological digs indicate that Native Americans may have used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections and wounds and as a general "cure-all." Throughout history people have used echinacea to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, and diphtheria. Although this herb was popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, its use began to decline in the United States after the introduction of antibiotics.
Today, people use echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu and reduce symptoms, such as sore throat (pharyngitis), cough, and fever. Many herbalists also recommend echinacea to help boost the immune system and help the body fight infections.
From herbs.org, a list of primary uses of Echinacea:
- Colds, coughs and flu and other upper respiratory conditions
- Enlarged lymph glands, sore throat
- Urinary tract infections
- Other minor infections
- May help combat herpes and candida
- Wounds, skin regeneration and skin infections (external use)Psoriasis, eczema and inflammatory skin conditions (external use)
Echinacea increases the "non-specific" activity of the immune system. In other words, unlike a vaccine which is active only against a specific disease, echinacea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which are directly lethal to bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient in attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells.