Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

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"The Indian sun is a hope for humanity."

From ancient times the ancient Native American cultures used the "red sunflower" to treat it and also called it the "Native American Sun". The Native Americans applied it to various wounds, insect bites and stings, and even snake bites in the form of decoction of the root. They chewed the root for any painful problems and rinsed their mouths with tooth or gum pains with its decoction.

The "Indian Sun" was gradually encountered by settlers, and the first mention dates back to 1850, when Gideon Lincecum wrote: "The tincture of the root of this plant has been used successfully for severe coughs and dyspepsia (gastric neurosis)." Meyer's immediate patented blood purifier against snake bites and so enthusiastic about the plant's properties immediately spread awareness of its abilities to the LIyd brothers, thanks to which the plant received the appropriate advertisement immediately after testing in the next issue of American Dispensatory.

Unfortunately, over time, the herb has fallen victim to a "war" between followers of synthetic treatments and among followers of alternative therapies, and as in any such situation, we would hardly be able to find the truth. The golden mean, in my opinion. During the Second World War, with the multiplication of antibiotics, it completely disappeared from consciousness, but today it is again one of the most well-known and most used drugs, and the enthusiasm for the effects is not lacking even for current users. All this and much more is written about an herb called Conifer Purple, more intimately known as Echinacea.

The word Echinacea, taken from the Greek "echinos", means hedgehog and the plant with its flower almost copies the flower of the more well-known daisy, but its center is flat. Although Třapatka has a lot of healing effects, I would like to highlight the most significant feature, which is strengthening the body's immunity. It widely helps to activate lymphocytes (white blood cells), which in the body act as absorbers of sources of infection and at the same time fight against it by producing effective antibodies. And this really strong antibiotic property is applied not only against viruses but also bacteria.

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Echinacea originates from North America, today it is mostly widespread in Arkansas, Missouri or Oklahoma, and currently plantations for medical use located in Africa and Europe have been established with the herb. The most used species, about 10 species used in pharmacy, are Echinacea purpurea and its alternative replacement Echinacea Angustifolia originating in Europe. It does not grow in the wild in the Czech Republic, but due to its healing and decorative properties, it can be grown at home.

The plants thrive in poor, stony, slightly acidic soils and require a sunny location. The perennial growing in clumps, mostly up to one meter high, has leaves that are entire and hairy or toothed and almost glabrous. Its inflorescence is a beautiful costume with marginal slender flowers of white, pink or red-violet color.

The root, flower, stem and leaf are used as drugs. However, most of the active substances are contained in a cylindrical wrinkled root, which has a weak aroma and primarily a sweet, then acidic to bitter taste. Each part of the herb has a different amount of these active phenolic components, derived from caffeic acid, or echinacoside. It also contains unsaturated aliphatic components and polysaccharides. The essential oil contains borneol, bornyl acetate and, for example, caryophylene. It has been proven that conifers really significantly increase resistance to infections, especially the flu. It is recommended for any reduction in immunity (runny nose, cough, cold, inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, etc.), has an immediate onset of action and at the same time strengthens defenses thanks to echinacoside (a natural antibiotic) eliminates many bacteria, viruses and fungi.

It also soothes pain or helps with chronic inflammation of the joints and urinary tract. It heals small wounds and burns, acts on skin eczema, psoriasis and acne, cleanses the blood and lymphatic system, helps to treat shin ulcers, bedsores and is also very suitable as a supplement for increased physical and mental stress. It is also used for food poisoning. Certain animal tests have also shown a weak preventive effect against oncological diseases, especially in cases of leukemia and specific types of tumors.

In Germany, Echinacea was administered together with chemotherapy to a group of patients with advanced colon cancer, and subsequently not only an undefined prolongation of the life of the patients was observed, but especially the ability of the immune system to fight cancer cells. And although these have been promising results for the future, unfortunately we cannot yet label the coneflower as a cure for cancer, but we can use it for many other beneficial purposes for the body. And last but not least, you can also try the prepared echinacea oil, which has a beneficial effect on problematic skin, suppresses the formation of wrinkles, stretch marks and scars. After all, the worldwide decline in the immunity of the current highly civilized population has meant that even the world's pharmaceutical corporations are increasingly placing hope in this Indian herb.