Common Names – Echinacea, Purple coneflower
Botanical Name – Echinacea spp
Family – Asteraceae
It is a simple flowering plant and a member of the daisy family. More commonly known as purple coneflower, many people grow this powerful herb without even realizing it! The name derives from the Greek word ekhinos (hedgehog) because the cone resembles a small hedgehog.
The flowers, leaves and roots of this plant can all be used differently in natural remedies. In general, the leaves and flowers are the parts traditionally used in remedies.
Herbalists do not agree on which species is best, E.purpurea,, E. pallida, or E.angustifolia, but all variants have phytochemicals that improve the immune system and fight infections.
There are dozens of dozens of biochemical compounds that act in therapeutic synergy in this complex plant that support disease resistance in several ways. However, taking echinacea when a cold or infection has already become serious may be fighting a losing battle. Echinacea is most effect when taken at the first onset of cold or sinus infection.
It is also used against many other infections including the flu, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria.
Echinacea has a numbing sensation that relieves the pain of cold sores, and also offers some protection against herpes simplex viruses. Echinacea acts against Candida albicans, the microorganism that causes most yeast infection. Echinacea is a mild antiseptic on its own, but when fighting an established virus, combining echinacea with antiseptic herbs such as goldeseal or Oregon grape enhances the effectiveness of the treatment.
Native American’s used it as a remedy hundreds of years ago and it is re-gaining popularity in modern times. Modern research is still divided on the effectiveness of echinacea, and there are some contraindications (like autoimmune disease).
Of course, it is important to check with a doctor or medical professional before using this or any herb, especially in cases of disease, medical problems, pregnancy, or in children.
A tincture is essentially an extract. Alcohol tinctures are the most common type and the easiest to make, though vinegar or even glycerin will work.
To make an echinacea tincture with alcohol, you will need:
*A clean glass jar with lid
*Food grade alcohol like vodka or rum, at least 80 proof OR apple cider vinegar
*1/2 cup dried echinacea (Can be one or a mixture of root, leaf, and flower. Remember the root is more potent than the rest of the plant.)
Place the dried herb in the jar and cover with the alcohol or vinegar. Remove the bubbles with a spoon. Place the lid on, label, and store in dark cool place. Shake once a day if you don’t forget about it like I do. Allow to infuse for 6 weeks.
Strain out the herbs and enjoy your natural medicine. Start with a drop in a little water and see how you react to the dose. You may increase if you wish, everyone is different.
Remember, I am not a doctor, so please consult your doctor when taking herbal products, especially if you are taking a prescribed medicine.