Echinacea is also widely known as the purple coneflower. This gorgeous flower is a hardy perennial native to North America.
They become quite tall in the right environment; up to 1.5 m (5ft) tall. The Echinacea make great cutting flowers and are very decorative. Some love to grow Echinacea in their gardens solely for ornamental purposes.
It likes rich and sandy soil. Echinacea is a plant that thrives in full sun. It does not do well in shade. Unfortunately slugs seem to have a liking of the plant.
The name Echinacea come from the Greek word “echinos” meaning hedgehog. This refers to the spiky cone in the center of the flower.
For herbal remedy purposes the whole plant is used; the aerial parts and the roots.
Echinacea can be taken as tablets, tincture, and tea. Echinacea is also produced in creams and potions.
Echinacea stimulates the immune system. This herb increases the activity of the white blood cells. It has antiviral, fungicidal, bactericidal and inflammatory properties.
People with a weak immune system may benefit from using Echinacea.
Echinacea tea is used to strengthen the immune system.
As a gargle Echinacea is used to treat infected gums and sore throats.
Used in a hot infusion the herb is said to reduce fever.
Echinacea is traditionally used externally for slow-healing wounds, skin problems, insect bites and joint pains.
Echinacea tea can also be used externally as a skin toner. It is said to do wonders for damaged skin. This especially applies to UV damage in skin, premature aging and hard skin. Make strong Echinacea tea, cool it and use a cotton ball to pat it on your skin.
Echinacea is also helpful to heal acne and boils. All in all it is a good resource to heal wounds.
Echinacea is best known for treating symptoms of the flu and cold. When using Echinacea to prevent the outbreak of a cold it is important to take it when the very first signs appear. Waiting a day or two before using Echinacea is said to reduce the effect.
Echinacea cannot be taken as a preventive supplement. It only works to stop the cold after the first sneeze or the first day of a sore throat.
Echinacea tincture is made from the root of the flower. It is in the bark of the root that all the medicinal properties are found. As soon as the root is dug up and the medicinal qualities start to diminish.
It is of vital importance that the root is used right away. It needs to be fresh. Drying Echinacea root for later use is a waste of time. The root will not have any healing qualities left and no health benefits can be expected.
You can test the quality of the root by simply chewing a little piece of the bark. If you feel a tingling sensation on your tongue it is an indication that the root is good.
Clinical researches of Echinacea show all kinds of different results. Some tests show an extremely positive healing effect of the herb. On the other end some tests show no health benefits whatsoever. Research on Echinacea is an ongoing process.
None the less Echinacea is one of the most popular medicinal herbs sold. It is used by millions of people around the world who believe in the healing qualities of Echinacea.
Echinacea has been used as a medicinal plant among the North American Indians for centuries. The Indians were known to use Echinacea to treat snake bites.
The Mohawk and Cherokee Indians were the ones to teach the rest of us the benefits of the Echinacea.
Warning: Producing Echinacea supplements has become a huge lucrative industry. There have been horror stories about some insincere producers mixing hazardous components together with Echinacea. Never purchase Echinacea supplements from a producer you do not trust 100%.
Some people are allergic to Echinacea. Always consult your physician if you have any concerns.