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Echinacea – A Must Have Medicinal Herb

beth September 7, 2012

{image source: stevekocino}

 

You probably recognize this wonderful herb as a beautiful and popular garden flower. Echinacea, or as it is more commonly called ‘Purple Coneflower’,  is a great addition to any garden, but not just for its beauty. Echinacea is a favorite herb to many herbalists and natural health enthusiasts… Keep reading to find out why it’s one of MY favorite herbs to have around this time of year!

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Echinacea is hard to misidentify with its brilliant purple-pink petals, peaked brown center and tall, fuzzy stems. Butterflies and bees love it, and you will too! {Sounds like I am trying to pitch a sale, doesn”t it?} All parts of this plant can be used medicinally. Yep… you can use the flowers, leaves, stems and even the roots. And, it has a very mild taste which makes it great to give to even a picky child!

There are several species of medicinal Echinacea with the most common being E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida. Depending on the herbalist you talk to, all three species can be used interchangeably without concern. Some say that E. angustifolia has the strongest medicinal value. What do I use? Mostly E. angustifolia because it grows in my backyard, but I have also used E. purpurea with the same results.

What Is Echinacea Used For?

I keep hearing that Echinacea is good for me and my family. What is it used for?” Well, let me tell you! {Moms who send their kiddos to school, you’ll want to pay attention.} Dozens upon dozens of studies have established that this herb is a healing powerhouse, especially for the immune system.

Echinacea is one of the best herbs for the upcoming “cold and flu” seasons! The moment you realize your family has been exposed to icky nasties and flu bugs, you’ll be reaching for this herbal defense weapon! While Echinacea is promoted as a cold and flu herb… it’s actually the best ‘ immune system booster’, rather than a ‘cold symptom reliever’. Strengthen and protect those kiddos, a few cups of echinacea tea and those germs won”t stand a chance!

Echinacea is also an excellent antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral  and anti-inflammatory! One of the many phytochemicals in this herb (inulin) helps to rally the body’s white blood cells to hurry towards and take care of infections throughout the body. When used topically, it will cause a quick healing response to inflammation and infections. I add it to my salves to aid in healing minor wounds quickly. It also makes a great mouthwash for infected gums.

A few common conditions Echinacea is used for:

  • Acne
  • Blood Poisoning
  • Cold Symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Ear Infections
  • Fevers
  • Flu
  • Gum Disease
  • Immune System
  • Infections
  • Insect Bites/Stings
  • Lymphatic System
  • Mouth Inflammation
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Strep Throat
  • White Blood Cell Insufficiency
  • Wounds
  • Yeast Infections

 

How Do I Use Echinacea?

Echinacea can be safely be used in a number of ways. The simplest way to prepare is to make an infusion, also known as an “herbal tea“. This is a great way to give it to kids, just add a touch of honey (which is great medicine in itself) and you are good to go! Other ways echinacea is prepared are INTERNALLY: herbal tincture or glycerite and capsules… EXTERNALLY: salve and liniment. {click HERE to learn more about common herbal preparations}

General dosing guidelines:

Tincture – Adult: about 1 dropperful (1/4-1/2 teaspoon) up to 3x daily, children should have online slots half of adult dose

Infusion ( tea) – Adult: 1-2 teaspoons to a cup of water up to 4 x daily, children up to 3 x daily

Capsules – Adult: 500-1000 mg standardized capsules 2 x daily

 

Echinacea can safely benefit just about everyone/thing including men, women (including pregnant and nursing), children and animals.

This herb, unlike most, is best used on a “as needed” basis. You should know that a few herbalists caution not to take this herb longer than 2-8 weeks, saying our bodies may get used to it, causing its effect on the immune system to diminish. This idea is still a debate. If you are concerned, follow a pattern of a week or two on, several days off and repeat. Also, do not use this herb if you have autoimmune diseases such as MS, tuberculosis, lupus or HIV/AIDS.

**Please remember, it is always best to consult a natural health care professional before taking any new herbs or supplements. Also, more is not always best for herbal supplements. Always start at a low dose and work up as needed.

Where Can I Get Echinacea?

If you are able to grow your own Echinacea, I strongly encourage you to. Fresh, homegrown herbs are always the best… you know the environment in which the plants grew and you know the herbs are fresh. For more tips on learning how to grow and harvest your own herbs, I highly recommend Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung!

If you are not able to grow your own, no worries! There are great places like Bulk Herb Store {my personal favorite} and Mountain Rose Herbs that sell organic, high quality, bulk herbs. You can also purchase pre-packaged tea bags and ready-made tinctures from your local health food store or online. Just remember, organic is always best!

My cabinet is stocked with echinacea… what about yours? Will you be adding Echinacea to your herbal medicine cabinet?

*Disclaimer: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended for you to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is offered educational purposes only. I encourage others to do their own research as I have done and discuss your findings with a qualified medical professional before adding any supplements or making any changes in your diet.

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32 Comments

  1. I’m having a c-section in a week and will start taking this now!

    Reply

  2. This is great info… my daughter (3) just started school and already has the entire house sick including my 4 month old. I’m drinking my tea now. Hope it helps. Unfortunately I can’t get her to drink any teas. She prefers water and says tea is just for mommy.

    Reply

    • I do iced herbal teas for my little guy (2 1/2). He likes that a lot, but my whole family is big into drinking black iced tea on a regular basis, so he sees it as normal.

      Reply

    • Jaclyn… Have you ever thought of trying freezer pop treats? Make some herbal tea, let it cool and mix it with her favorite (100%) fruit juice. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds, freeze and give them to her as a “get better” treat!

      Reply

      • I have been trying to find a quick organic way to hydrate my 22 month old girl, named Jasmine. Than you so much I’m making this now!!

        Reply

  3. I’ve always heard echinacea was good if you get a cold, but it looks like it is much more than that!

    Reply

  4. Wow, it’s good for more than I thought!

    Reply

  5. Wow – great info! My little guy just started preschool this week, and as he’s never been in preschool or daycare before I’m expecting a lot of sick to hit us this year. I’ll definitely stock up on this tea so we’re ready to fight those germs! Thanks!

    Reply

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  7. I don’t have it… How would you take it for YIs? I seem to get a lot of those. 🙁

    Reply

    • Susan… can take echinacea any of the above mentioned ways (tea, tincture, capsules, etc.). Also, be sure you are eating the least amount of refined sugars and eating lots of plain yogurt (probiotics)!

      Reply

  8. Yes! My son and I started to get the first symptoms of a cold this week, so we started taking our Echinacea and Vitamin C and it cleared up by the next day. Love, love, love this herb! A staple in my herbal repertoire!

    Reply

  9. I have Echinacea in my “herbal medicine cupboard”! :] This week I started a few tinctures and elderberry and echinacea were among them…just to have on hand. :]

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  10. (and the link “{click HERE to learn more about common herbal preparations}” isn’t working)

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  11. Read this and immediately went out & bought tea! Thanks for the fantastic info!!

    Reply

  12. I love the article and echinacea! I have some seed and just need to get it growing.

    Reply

    • Kathy… for the best results growing echinacea from seed is to either plant it in the fall or put the seeds in the refrigerator until spring. The seeds need a good ‘winter’ before they sprout in the spring!

      Reply

  13. signed up for Green pastures newsletter

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  14. I have echinacea in the herb garden, but it has been just because it’s so pretty. Thanks for the links to making tincture and glycerite to add it to the medicine cabinet.

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  15. […] Echinacea – A “Must Have” Medicinal Herb | Modern Alternative Health […]

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  16. Is there any particular reason that someone with an autoimmune disorder should not take this? They have tested me a few times for lupus and though it comes back negative, I am curious about echinacea and autoimmune disorders. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Beth… Since echinacea stimulates a high production of white blood cells and immune cells, including T cells, it can cause more damage than good for those with autoimmune disorders. These disorders attack the cells that echinacea generates, thus aggravating the symptoms. This is especially concerning for those with HIV… the more T cells there are, the quicker the virus spreads and you run the risks of creating drug-resistant mutations. I recommend you do some extra research on how this herb can affect auto-immune disorders before using it. 🙂

      Reply

  17. […] parts Echinacea Root 2 parts Elderberry 1 part Echinacea Leaf 1 part Olive Leaf 1 […]

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  18. […] also knows as plantain is one amazing herb. It ranks up there with my all time favorite herbs like echinaeca and elderberries. Keep reading to find out why plantain is one of my must have herbs for my medicine […]

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  19. […] also knows as plantain is one amazing herb. It ranks up there with my all time favorite herbs like echinaeca and elderberries. Keep reading to find out why plantain is one of my must have herbs for my medicine […]

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  22. Just about to boil up some Echinacea roots from my garden. Will be mixing with my dried chocolate mint leaves. Wish me luck! 🙂

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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