Botanical name: 

(Read at the Texas Eclectic Medical Society)


As the most interesting part of any drug to the doctor is its use and therapeutics I will not dwell on the botany and history of the plant, but pass immediately to a discussion of its action, medical uses, and dosage. The use of echinacea is not confined to internal administration, but either alone or in combination it often proves invaluable as a local application.

If we were to use the old classification we would call echinacea an antiseptic, or an antizymotic, but as this method of classifying drugs is rapidly becoming obsolete, for lack of a better term we will say it is a corrector of perverted body fluids; however this does not cover the ground, for echinacea has proven beneficial in conditions where we would hardly say we had a perversion of the fluids, for instance it has some virtue in the nausea of consumptives and in the vomiting of pregnancy. In the above conditions we would hardly consider them perversions, although in speaking of consumption most any condition imaginable may be present, and of all others we certainly have a perversion of the body fluid. Like all good agents as well as worthless ones, the value of echinacea has been over estimated; granting that this be true there is enough left to make it among the first of our remedies.

Being practically a new remedy we are not as able to give as pointed and definite indications for the use of this drug as with some of our older specifics. But in a general way we will say there are no contraindications for its use wherever there are symptoms of sepsis, or in other words perverted or depraved body fluids. And in thinking over the numerous diseases to which the human body is heir, we can call to mind but few exceptions wherein a septic condition may not develop. Such being the case it would be waste of time and space to mention all the ills in the treatment of which we may have the indications calling for echinacea.

In order to give you some of my personal experience with this drug, let me recite to you a few cases wherein echinacea proved beneficial. On the 22nd of January, '08, a man came into our office complaining of a rising as he called it upon his back; he further stated that he had been suffering for several months with the pesky things, and had thus far been unable to find a doctor that could check their development. On examining his back we found it literally covered with scars as evidence of what he had told us, the rising however proved to have several openings, and would be designated a carbuncle.

Our prescription:

Echinacea oz. 4
Aqua q. s. ozs. 4

Sig.: One teaspoonful every four hours.


Echinacea ozs. 2
Peroxide of hydrogen ozs. 2
Aqua q. s. ozs. 8

Sig.: Apply absorbent cotton to affected part and keep moist with solution.

This treatment was continued for about six weeks, and resulted in a permanent cure. It is needless to say in this case echinacea gained us a staunch patron.

My room mate was unfortunate enough to break the skin on the back of his hand a few weeks back, and as is generally the case the little and seemingly insignificant wound was neglected it became infected, and one night as I came in pretty late I found him rolling and tossing, complaining of severe pain in hand and arm. Upon examination I found it very much swollen and red to the elbow, with kernels in the arm pits. I immediately applied a milk and bread poultice to hand, leaving it on for the night. This afforded quite a good deal of relief. In the morning I dressed his hand with absorbent cotton saturated with equal parts of echinacea and peroxide of hydrogen, with instructions to keep it moist with this medicine, and also take twenty drops of echinacea internally three times each day.

He went to work the following day, and since that time whenever he gets the least scratch he never fails to ask for that liniment as he calls the medicine.

Among the diseases in which we find echinacea indicated, typhoid fever stands out pre-eminently; to my mind we can make no mistake in using it in this disease as a routine measure, because we can hardly conceive of a case of typhoid fever without evidence of sepsis.

Of course I do not mean to say that echinacea is all that will be needed, neither do I mean to say that where you have that tongue which calls for hydrochloric acid that you will get the results from echinacea that you can get from the acid.

We must not become so wrapped up in the virtues of any one drug, that we overlook the great values possessed by others.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.