What is echinacea?

What is echinacea ()? The use of echinacea in cultural and traditional settings may differ from concepts accepted by current Western medicine. When considering the use of herbal supplements, consultation with a primary health care professional is advisable. Additionally, consultation with a practitioner trained in the uses of herbal/health supplements may be beneficial, and coordination of treatment among all health care providers involved may be advantageous.Echinacea is also known as the American cone flower, black Susan, black Sampson, comb flower, hedgehog, Indian head, Kansas snakeroot, narrow-leaved purple coneflower, scurvy root, and snakeroot.Echinacea has been used orally to stimulate the immune system of the body. Echinacea is most commonly used in the treatment of the common cold. Echinacea is also used topically in the treatment of wounds and burns.Echinacea has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of echinacea may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. There have been instances where herbal/health supplements have been sold which were contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.Echinacea may also have uses other than those listed in this medication guide.