Maximization of the essential oils in Echinacea purpura and Valeriana officinalis.

J.T. Millard, D.W. Comeau, S. Bellavia, J.E. Eckert

Both Echinacea purpurea and Valeriana officinalis are two popular alternative herbal supplements. Although some controversy exists in the literature, it has been postulated that Echinacea acts as an immune stimulant while Valerian acts as a sedative. While the essential ingredients for both plants have been proposed in the literature (chicoric acid and valerenic acid respectively), studies on increasing the quantity of these oils remain scarce. Roots from one hundred samples of both plants were dug up during the peak season and analyzed via thin layer chromatography (TLC) to reveal the quantity and quality of essential ingredients. The plants containing the highest quantity of active agents were then re-rooted to be examined the following year. Johnny's Selected Seeds (Albion, ME) hopes to see vast improvements over a three year period in the essential ingredients of the plants so that they can generate enriched Echinacea and Valerian cultivars for seed production.