Echinacea was a traditional remedy of the Native American Indians in the Great Plains, where it grows wild. The Cheyenne, Comanche, and other tribes used it for many ailments, including toothaches, sore throats, tonsillitis, coughs, and blood and lymphatic diseases. This herb can shorten the severity and duration of many common illnesses.
Echinacea is a flowering plant in the daisy family. The nine species it contains are commonly called purple coneflowers. Three species of echinacea are commonly used for medicinal purposes: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. Other common names for Echinacea are Sampson root, Missouri snakeroot, and rudbeckia. They are native to eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They are a very easy to grow perennial plant that tolerates poor soil and drought quite well.
Echinacea is full of vitamins and minerals (copper, iron, iodine, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E), along with flavonoids, oils, polysaccharides, phenols, and alkylamides. Because of this combination of ingredients, echinacea works as a natural antibiotic, which can suppress virus activity and promote immune system stimulation through the activation of the immune system’s natural bacteria killers.
Echinacea is used in tincture form for respiratory problems, bronchitis, sore throat, enlarged prostate gland, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, ear infections, sinusitis, and hay fever. Used externally it can help heal eczema, psoriasis, and slow-healing wounds. A tea can be made and used to maintain the body's resistance to infection, to mend injured tissue, and to promote healthy body functioning.
All parts of echinacea can be used but the root of 2-3 year old plants has the most healing properties. Echinacea roots are pretty stable after washing and may be cold-stored or shipped over a period of several days without molding. However, it makes sense to make the fresh root tincture as soon as possible after washing, which will minimize oxidation. 1 dropper full 3-5 times a day is the adult dosage in tincture form. Children can take echinacea tincture as well but in smaller doses. To comfort a sore throat; Mix 2 droppers of Echinacea tincture in 1/2 cup warm water. Gargle with it two or three times daily. To make a children's tonic; Mix 1/2 dropper of tincture with grape or cranberry juice to improve the taste and provide some nutrients. Another nice tincture is made by grinding 2 oz. root in a coffee grinder and place in a quart jar. Then, add 1 handful grated ginger root, 3-4 orange slices, and 1 handful freshly-chopped or dried peppermint. Cover with 3 times more brandy or vodka than dry ingredients. Cover the jar with plastic wrap then screw the lid on tightly. Shake the jar daily for two-four weeks. Strain and decant. Take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. or 1 dropper full 2 or 3 times daily until your symptoms have been gone for a few days. To make a feel-good echinacea tea; Mix 4 TB each of ground echinacea root, grated ginger root, and fennel in a non-metal 1 quart pot. Then add 1 TB of licorice root and 1TB orange peel or slices and 1 quart of water. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Strain and drink as needed. The extra ingredients make this tea taste good plus they have the added effects of ginger which is an expectorant, licorice that soothes your throat, fennel that moistens your throat and lungs and helps to settle your stomach as well as the citrus which is antiseptic, antibacterial, and rich in bioflavonoids.
In spite of some claims that Echinacea has no side effects, studies show that some people may experience allergic reactions, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, muscle aches, nausea, sore throat, temporary numbness of the tongue and upset stomach. People with tuberculosis, leukemia, diabetes, connective tissue disorders, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, any autoimmune diseases, or liver disorders should not take echinacea. There is concern that echinacea may reduce the effectiveness of medications that suppress the immune system.