Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower or Purple coneflower) is a species of flowering plant in the genus Echinacea. Its cone-shaped flowering heads are usually, but not always purple. It is native to eastern North America and present to some extent in the wild in much of the eastern, south-eastern and Midwest United States. It is also grown as an ornamental plant, and numerous cultivars have been developed for flower quality and plant form. Echinacea is popularly believed to be an immunostimulator, stimulating the body's non-specific immune system and warding off infections and also being utilized as a laxative. A study commonly used to support that belief is a 2007 meta-analysis in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The studies pooled in the meta-analysis used different types of Echinacea, different parts of the plant, and various dosages. The safety of Echinacea under long-term use is also unknown.
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