This week, we'll be looking into the medicinal properties of Echinacea. Echinacea is actually a genus consisting of nine different species of flowering herb, however we will be looking into two which are most commonly used for medicinal treatment. The Latin names for these are Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea.
Since both species are generally used in the same ways for medicinal treatment, we will be referring to both as Echinacea in this article.Its other names include: Purple coneflower, Kansas snakeroot, Black sampson, Sampson root, and Rudbeckia.
Echinacea is indigenous to North America, specifically in the Great Plains and Eastern regions of the United States. It has been used by Native Americans in herbal remedies for 200 years or more. Commercial use began in the late 19th century as European settlers discovered the many uses for Echinacea, and was the most widely used herbal preparation in the United States by the beginning of the 20th century.
Echinacea grows from 1 to 4 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide, depending on species. Echinacea is known for the shape of its daisy-like flowers, known as coneflowers. The flowers range from a rose pink to a red-violet, with various shades of pink and purple in between. Each flower blooms from individual stems, which grow about one foot above the foliage. Echinacea angustifolia has narrower leaves than other varieties.
The main effects of Echinacea are stimulation of the immune system and as an anti-inflammatory. Echinacea is used both internally and externally. It can be taken internally as a tea made from either the fresh or dried herb, as a tincture, and as an extract in concentrated pill or liquid form. Echinacea can also be applied externally to wounds, burns, and insect bites as a poultice.
Ailments which indicate treatment with Echinacea include: the common cold, flu, urinary tract infection, infected wounds, burns, stomach cramps, snake bites, insect bites, toothache, headache, boils, erysipelas, septicemia, cancer, syphilis, other impurities of the blood, rheumatism, neuralgia, hemorrhoids, and fevers.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
It is not recommended to take Echinacea if you are pregnant or breast-feeding; if you are taking a narcotic; or if you are going into surgery.
Latin Name: Echinacea angistifolia, Echinacea purpurea
Medicinal Actions: Antiseptic, Alterative, Aphrodisiac, Inflammatory Action creating an Immune response.
Indications: infection, swelling or pain caused by inflammation, common cold, flu, urinary tract infection, infected wounds, burns, snake bites, insect bites, toothache, headache, boils, erysipelas, septicemia, cancer, syphilis, other impurities of the blood, rheumatism, neuralgia, hemorrhoids, fever
Contraindications: While pregnant or breast-feeding; taking Echinacea concurrently with prescription drugs - particularly ones known to cause liver toxicity, or psychiatric medications; auto-immune disorders; leukemia; allergies to: chamomile, ragweed, mugwort, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, dandelions, or other members of the Asteraceae family; going into surgery.
- Elderberry-Echinacea Syrup -
1/2 c. dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh)
2 Tbsp dried Echinacea (it’s perfectly fine to open an Echinacea tea bag and use that)
1 Tbsp dried ginger root (or 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root)
1-2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
3 c. distilled water
3/4 c. raw honey
Put all ingredients EXCEPT for the honey into a pot and set to medium heat
Let the mixture heat to a simmer
Turn the burner as low as you can while still maintaining a small simmer, and leave the whole thing alone for 45 minutes (or until the liquid has reduced by half).
Stir occasionally, and mush the elderberries around with the back of your spoon to release juices.
Once your liquid is at about half as much as you started with, strain all of the ingredients. Use a French press, cheese cloth, or a very fine-mesh sieve.
Let cool for about 10-15 minutes.
Add honey and stir
Keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to two months. Take 2-3 teaspoons a day at the first sign of a cough, cold, or icky feeling.