Oregon's Wild Harvest - Ask Dr. Meletis

Echinacea to support a challenged immune system.*

October 2018


Q: When I shop for Echinacea, I often wonder whether I should purchase E. angustifolia or E. purpurea. Do you have a favorite variety for your patients?

A: That is an excellent question. My answer is both! Both are remarkable for supporting the immune system and are also both members of Asteraceae family that contain similar naturally occurring phyto-active substances including echinacoside, alkamides, essential oils, caffeic acid, caftaric acid, chicoric acid, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides. 

Clinically, I have found both highly useful to support my patients’ overall immune and wellness goals. When possible, I will use a combination formula, as each plant has its own unique phytonutrient profiles. With my patients I often use a citrus analogy. Citrus, such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes, each have tremendous overlap in their nutrients, yet each also has unique potential health benefits. So, I suggest that it’s time for some fruit punch!


Q:  I know Echinacea is sometimes called the “Vitamin C” of the herbal world, why is it so popular?

A:  Amazing and true, the indigenous peoples of North America have utilized Echinacea for at least 400 years. Clearly, they realized its multiple benefits well before modern scientific research methods.

Echinacea’s broad medicinal properties and long history, combined with its natural beauty (Purple Coneflower), all add to its claim to fame. I encourage reading the article link below regarding the power of Echinacea.

Over the decades of clinical practice, I learn and learn again never to look at an herbal for just one targeted area of potential use in supporting human health. We must stay humble in our knowledge that we have yet to fully appreciate the breadth of impact that plants have on the trillions of cells and thousands of biochemical pathways within the human body.




Q: Should I use Echinacea flower or root?  Why?

A:  Based on my naturopathic training and clinical experience over the last 25 years, my answer is BOTH! The entire plant contains active constituents, leaves, flowers and roots all at varying levels of concentrations. Thus, much like eating a carrot, potato or apple with the skin on, the nutrients are more bountiful. Plus, as much as I love the latest scientific research article and the biochemistry of plants, the traditional ways plants have been used around the world is the cornerstone of why we know plants are medicinal.

It is also important to remember that the quality of any food or medicinal plant varies by how and where it is grown, and it is essential to harvest at the right time. Those that tend a garden know all too well that soil quality, irrigation, organic and chemical free methods, and when you harvest all determine the vitality of the produce. Having visited Oregon’s Wild Harvest farms in person, I deepened my plant identification skills and gained a true appreciation of what it takes to grow organic, non-GMO plants with love and care.


Photos by Chris Meletis, ND from his trip to the Culver, OR farm in 2017


Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D.Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., has 24-years of experience practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor in Portland, Oregon.  He is dedicated to using his vast knowledge about alternative medicine to help his patients and generously give to those in need. He has written over a dozen books and 100's of national articles, and was named Naturopathic Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  Read more about Dr. Meletis here.  Or, visit our "Ask Dr. Meletis, N.D." page for additional articles. 

*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. The information on this website, and provided by Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. There is additional information linked within this site to HealthNotes®, a third party educational source, containing the latest research on health and supplements. Oregon's Wild Harvest will not be held accountable for this information and consider it an education reference only.  

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