(Reprinted from Wild Mountain Herbs Newsletter)
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Recently my son had an inflamed chronic infection on his face (maybe candida). I had tried many things to heal this. 3 days of 3 –1/2 cup doses of strong decoction (see below) of Echinacea per day cured an issue that had been persistent for over 8 weeks.
History of use of Echinacea: Echinacea is one of the most well-known and well-studied plants. It was the most commonly used medicinal plant of Native Americans of the plains. They used it for toothache, colds, sore throats, arthritis, rheumatism, measles, stomach cramps, eczema, as a specific cure for rattlesnake bites, and more. The colonists used Echinacea as well. In the 1870’s it was popularized as a blood purifier and by the 1920’s Echinacea was in almost every home in America. By the 1930’s antibiotics became available and the use of Echinacea declined. There have been countless scientific studies (mostly done in Germany) over the past 50 years confirming the below uses.
Medicinal uses for Echinacea:
Echinacea helps with immune system enhancing and infection fighting. Echinacea is one of the best anti-microbial herbs (anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal) to combat infections. It is a good herb to take when one has been exposed to illness or is in the first stages of illness. Echinacea improves the body’s own resistance to infections, stimulating the immune system and the generation of white blood cells so that we can fight off colds and flu's and other diseases. Echinacea is the most useful herb for infections of the ears, nose and throat including sinusitis, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. It is also useful for bronchial inflammation and strep throat. Echinacea’s antibiotic effect has been scientifically verified.
Echinacea is a blood cleanser/purifier and lymph system cleanser. Herbs that do this are useful in herbal healing of cancer. Blood cleansing properties lead Echinacea to be helpful for skin conditions such as herpes, impetigo, ringworm, boils, eczema, abscesses and acne.
Echinacea is anti-inflammatory and has strong wound healing action helping to stimulate new tissue development. One physician treated people for 30 years in the early stages of chronic polyarthritis. He saw significant improvement ranging from relief of pain to freedom from symptoms in almost every case.
Echinacea can help with gum infections, inflamed gums, gingivitis and pyorrhea.
Echinacea can be used to heal wounds and sores and inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, minor burns, cuts and herpes sores. It reduces pain and swelling. Echinacea can also relieve itching, including that caused by bites and stings.
How to grow Echinacea: Echinacea grows easily from seed in deep boxes in the greenhouse. One trick is to tamp it into the top of the soil and not bury (or very lightly cover) the seeds. It does best when planted as seedlings into the outdoor garden. It needs slightly acid, well-drained soil that is decent to good. Echinacea has beautiful flowers and is a wonderful addition to any garden.
How and when to harvest and process Echinacea: Every part of the Echinacea plant is medicinal. Echinacea leaves can be harvested in late spring to early fall when they look vibrant and healthy. Use the leaves fresh in tea or dry them in the shade and use them later for tea. The flowers, when healthy and vibrant, can be used in tea as well, fresh or dried. Echinacea roots can be harvested when they are 2-3 years old, in the late fall through winter, when the upper parts of the plant have died off. I harvested roots in November and will harvest again in February after the snow melts. The roots are the most powerful part of the plant. The seeds can be harvested in the fall before the first cold rains, if you can get them before the birds.
Easy ways to use Echinacea at home: Echinacea leaves can be used to make tea. You can mix them with peppermint to make a pleasant tasting, refreshing and immune enhancing tea. Echinacea roots can be simmered on low heat or on the wood stove for about 3 hours (a decoction), strained and drank as tea. Add honey to make it more palatable for children. Echinacea can be taken in tincture form and used as a salve. The leaves can be steamed or boiled and eaten as a food.
Wild Mountain Herbs Vision
- To empower and inspire people to take an active part in improving their health.
- To encourage natural healing by providing in depth herbal information and top quality medicinal herb products.
- To protect the environment by using only ethically harvested and/or organically grown ingredients for our products.
We are on a quest, individually and collectively, to create wholeness within ourselves and within all of our life, to find it within ourselves and to release it – a process of communion and education. What is created will not be separation, conflict and diversity among peoples, but wholeness, oneness, peace, a new earth for humankind that reflects the oneness and wholeness of the earth that has always been.
References: The New Holistic Herbal by Hoffmann, Echinacea-Natures Immune Enhancer by Foster, The New Age Herbalist by Mabey and McIntyre, Herbal Medicine by Weiss, Science and Art of Herbology by Gladstar, Echinacea – Native American Tonic Roots by Cech.