There are a number of classes of pharmacologically active chemicals in echinacea, including polysaccharides, flavonoids (calculated as quercetin), caffeic acid, essential oils, alkylamides, and polyacetylenes.
Echinacea has strong immune-stimulating properties. This herb increases phagocytosis (the ability of white blood cells to destroy invading organisms), stimulates the lymphatic system (to remove waste materials), and reduces the production of hyaluronidase (an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid; hyaluronic acid is needed to bind cells together to prevent infection). The reduction of hyaluronidase is responsible for tissue regeneration and decreased inflammation.
It is said that “the victor gets to write the history,” and because modern medicine holds such a stranglehold on our medical system, it is sometimes very hard to obtain balanced information about medical matters. Worse yet, public policy and many laws support only the views espoused by modern medicine. Consequently, those of us who know the power of natural healing are often left on our own to seek out information in order to fill in the gaps.
The strongest case for the use of nutritional supplements can be made, even to the typically skeptical mainstream medical community, when traditional pharmaceuticals have shown to be of limited efficacy. In such cases, the use of nutraceuticals as both preventive and therapeutic agents becomes very compelling. The need to consider and employ natural bioactive compounds is particularly strong in the field of infectious diseases.