Posted: May 20th, 2011
Echinacea is a perennial herb that grows from one to four feet tall with cone shaped rose or purple colored flowers. Most species are easy to grow by seed or root division. All are drought resistant and need full sun although purpurea can grow in dappled shade. This is a sadly over harvested plant in the wild so it is especially wonderful to grow in one’s own yard.
The entire plant can be used for medicine although the roots and flowers are the strongest. Echinacea roots are harvested in the fall after the plants have gone to seed. They can be used fresh or dried whole for later use. The flowers are harvested as the blooms begin to loose their luster and are best used fresh. The active constituents in Echinacea are water and alcohol soluble. It is good to take frequent doses as Echinacea does not remain in the body for an extended amount of time. A dosage would be two “oo” capsules or 20-60 drops tincture four times a day
Echinacea is probably best known for its immune stimulating properties. It is said to be anti-biotic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It increases the white blood cell’s ability to fight, destroy and eat foreign organisms. It stimulates T-cell activity, leukocyte activity and phagocytosis. Use Echinacea with garlic and organic goldenseal for flus, colds, fevers, sore throats and infections. Echinacea is resistant to many viruses such as herpes, canker sores and influenza. For this reason, it works well after vaccinations or a visit to the dentist. It can help decrease the risk of infection and prevent the spread of infections that have already occurred.
Echinacea is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anesthetic and anti-microbial giving it strong wound healing and infection fighting properties. It reduces swelling and pain along with increasing immune response. A strong decoction can work excellent for boils, cuts, teething, wounds, gangrene, abscesses, ulcerations, poison ivy, and animal, reptile and insect bites. To make a decoction, add one cup of Echinacea angustifolia root to one liter of water. Simmer for forty minutes, strain and drink the whole decoction over the space of three to four hours.
Allergies can also be greatly relieved with Echinacea due to its anti-inflammatory and immune aspects. Echinacea helps support interstitial integrity between the cells so that allergy response stays localized to the tissues in direct contact with the allergen. Known as a blood cleanser, Echinacea stimulates the elimination of wastes from the blood stream and lymph and stabilizes the red blood cell count. It is used for blood poisoning, toxicity and food poisoning. Echinacea may be inappropriate for autoimmune diseases. Some people have allergies to plants in the composite family, including Echinacea.
© 2013 Elaine Sheff, Clinical Herbalist
Green Path Herb School
Article Categories: Herbs