With all the sickness going around my friends and family I thought I’d choose Echinacea or Purple Coneflower next. Besides being Stunningly (is that a word?:P) beautiful, this little plant is definitely beneficial in the medicinal garden. I must admit I don’t know if I am more excited about growing this for the properties or for the pretty blooms.
Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea angustifolia, Coneflower, Snakeroot, Purple Coneflower, and Blacksamson.
Mountain Rose Herbs says:
“Echinacea is a hardy perennial that is indigenous to Canada and the United States, specifically concentrated around Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. The flower has a distinct shape with a large central disk that is covered in awns. In reference to its distinctive shape, its name is derived from a Greek word meaning “sea urchin.” The flowers are often cultivated for ornamental use, and should be planted in loose, sandy soil.
Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal medicines available, with American and German sales valued yearly at over one-hundred million dollars. The plant was historically used by early Native Americans and became known to popular medicine after the settling of the prairie states in the 1800s. By the 1880s, the popularity of Echinacea had grown, and it was marketed for a variety of ailments by Dr. H. C. F. Meyer.”
Echinacea is widely used to fight infections most commonly the cold and other upper respiratory infections. Sometimes it is taken at the first sign of sickness and other times it is used to treat symptoms of a further progressed illness. I found contradicting evidence as to whether or not Echinacea is effective at preventing a cold or just treating symptoms. We will just have to try and find out!
In addition to treating the common cold Echinacea has been used to treat a variety of other infections such as the flu, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, connective tissue disorders, lupus, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria.
The immune stimulant property come from Echinacea’s complex sugars, Polysaccharides and Echinaceoside. According to Nutritional Herbology:
“The proven actions of Echinacea are due to water-soluble polysaccharides. They act by sequestering the attacks of various microbes and allow the body to heal itself. Upon reaching an infected area, the polysaccharides have an immunostimulant effect, which results in the production of leucocytes (white blood cells). The resulting phagocytic action of the leucocytes effectively eradicates a number of infectious organisms.”
In addition to it’s powerful internal immune stimulating effects it has also been used externally to treat wounds, skin infections, psoriasis, acne, eczema, inflammatory skin conditions and aid in skin regeneration.
The top portions of the plant can be used to make juice, infusions, teas and tinctures while the root is used in the same way as well as being cut or powdered to be used in capsule form.
As with all natural remedies and medicine there are risks and warnings associated with Echinacea. Consult a doctor and/or do your own research before consuming it to treat any condition.