Historical note Echinacea was first used by Native American Sioux Indians centuries ago as a treatment for snakebite, colic, infection and external wounds, among other things. It was introduced into standard medical practice in the USA during the 1 800s as a popular anti-infective medication, which was prescribed by eclectic and traditional doctors until the 20th century. Remaining on the national list of official plant drugs in the USA until the 1 940s, it was produced by pharmaceutical companies during this period. With the arrival of antibiotics, echinacea fell out of favour and was no longer considered a 'real' medicine for infection. Its use has re-emerged, probably because we are now in a better position to understand the limitations of antibiotic therapy and because there is growing public interest in self-care. The dozens of clinical trials conducted overseas have also played a role in its renaissance.
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