For the most part, three different echinacea species are used medicinally. There is no scientific evidence that any particular species is more effective than the others. Since there is really no conclusive evidence about which species of echinacea is best, it might be a good idea to use an echinacea supplement that contains a combination of species.
Although many people think of echinacea as a single plant, it is actually a group of similarly related plants. In fact, there are actually several different echinacea species. In general, only three are used medicinally. There is considerable disagreement about which species might be most effective medicinally.
The following three species of echinacea are typically used medicinally:
- Echinacea purpurea
- Echinacea angustifolia
- Echinacea pallida.
Despite what you may hear or read on the Internet, there is no reliable and convincing scientific evidence that any particular species is more effective than the others. Echinacea purpurea is the most commonly used species for medicinal use.
Even though there are ways to test echinacea to verify the species, echinacea products are sometimes mislabeled as the wrong type.
Some people worry about which echinacea species to choose when looking for a supplement. However, a more important issue is choosing an echinacea supplement from a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable. There have been reports that some echinacea supplements contain less than the labeled amount of echinacea or the wrong species, or are contaminated with lead, arsenic, or other contaminants.
Since there is really no conclusive evidence about which echinacea species is best, it might be a good idea to use a supplement that contains a combination of species.