Echinacea possesses strong immune-stimulating activity to help prevent and treat infections of all kinds. The herb is commonly used for colds, flu, urinary tract infections, and skin infections like impetigo and boils. Echinacea is also used as a mouthwash for gum problems.
A number of different species grow wild in much of central and eastern United States and were favored by Native American healers for treating infections, snake bites, and other toxic bites.
Decades of research from Germany demonstrating its immune-stimulating and wound-healing effects has led to its popularity and rise to the top of the herbal pharmacopoeia. In the 1990s it became a household name for its widespread use as a cold and flu remedy.
Recent high-quality clinical trials have shown that it is not very effective for treating colds and flu after it becomes established, but can help prevent infections in the first place when used regularly during cold and flu season, and reduce symptoms when taken very early in the infections, even for children. Many herbalists today use it for treating skin infections like boils, sores, candida overgrowth, and following the traditions, toxic bites.