The genus Echinacea consists of 11 taxa of herbaceous and perennial flowering plants. In particular, Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench is widely cultivated all over the United States, Canada, and in Europe, exclusively in Germany, for its beauty and reported medicinal properties. Echinacea extracts have been used traditionally as wound healing to improve the immune system and to treat respiratory symptoms caused by bacterial infections. Echinacea extracts have demonstrated antioxidant and antimicrobial activities, and to be safe. This survey aims at reviewing the medicinal properties of Echinacea species, their cultivation, chemical composition, and the potential uses of these plants as antioxidant and antibacterial agents in foods and in a clinical context. Moreover, the factors affecting the chemical composition of Echinacea spp. are also covered.
Keywords: Asteraceae; Echinacea purpurea; ethnobotany; ethnopharmacology; herbal remedies; immunomodulatory activity.
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