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Herb Spotlight - Echinacea

Herb Spotlight - Motherwort - Sun God Medicinals

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)

Family: Asteraceae

Part Used: Root, Flower

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet, Diffusive

Energetics: Sweet, Diffusive


Herbal Actions: 

Antiseptic, Antimicrobial, Alterative, Immunomodulator, Sialagogue, Antiviral, Febrifuge, Diuretic, Lymphatic 

Overview:

Echinacea, also referred to as Cornflower, is well known for its immune-boosting abilities; having historical relevance in American folk herbalism dating back centuries. Its reputation as a cold and flu remedy is quite common, and has become one of the most available dietary supplements in health and food stores to date. 

Botany:

Echinacea is a perennial member of the sunflower family, bearing similar 4-5 foot tall hairy stalks, with vibrant blooms of purple and pink flowers in the warmer months. The leaves are wide and have a fuzzy texture. Echinacea prefers to grow in rocky, disturbed soils; it also grows well in garden beds, along roadsides, and in open fields.

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Echinacea, due to overharvesting, is best collected with care and caution in the fall months after the flowers have begun to wilt. This species, Echinacea purpurea, is widely cultivated in the United States and southern Canada, and is specifically grown in Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri for commercial use.

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Echinacea species can be found wild in Southern Oregon, and commonly goes by the name Cornflower. It thrives in open roadsides, sunny pastures, and in woodlands with plenty of light exposure. Echinacea is popularly grown in gardens, providing another valuable source of sustenance for the diverse, local pollinators of the Rogue Valley.

History and Folklore:

American Native Uses: The Pawnee, Dakota, and Omaha-Winnebego tribes have used Echinacea as an herbal smudge stick or smoke blend, as a fresh juice, and as immune support for a variety of conditions. Tribes also would chew the leaf or root to extract the medicinal properties.4 

The genus Echinacea is derived from the Greek word ‘echinos’, meaning hedgehog or sea-urchin, and refers to the cone shaped, spiney seed head.

Other Traditional Uses: Echinacea was used by European ethnobotanists in the case of chronic hemorrhoids, vaginal ulcerations and various sexual transmitted diseseases, as well as a remedy for poison ivy, wasp stings, and extensive swelling of any kind.³ It was also known as medicine for dog bites, chronic catarrh or coughing, and septicemia. Echinacea was specifically indicated for those with “bad blood” due to malignancy or other diseases.

Modern Applications:

Echinacea has been indicated to support a wide variety of immunological illnesses² including tonsillitis, influenza, bacterial and viral infections, and mouth and gum diseases. It is also used as a remedy for allergies, emaciation and weakness, inflammation, fevers, eczema and psoriasis, swollen glands, to prevent respiratory infections, and an effective therapy for the common cold.¹

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

Infuse 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried root in one cup of water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

1-3 mL up to 4 times per day; may take more as needed for symptom relief.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Dosage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Precautions:

Although it is not advised to take Echinacea tonically, there is research to support specific indications for its long term use when appropriate. Please consult with a medical professional before use with any other pharmaceutical drugs, pregnant, nursing, or in the presence of autoimmune diseases. 

Persons with impaired immune systems should avoid using immunostimulants. Also, because echinacea is a member of the aster/daisy family (which ragweed is a relative), some individuals may be allergic to it.

References:

  1. Ross SM., (January 30, 2016). Echinacea purpurea: A propriety of Echinacea purpurea is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26633727 
  2.  Aarland, Rc., Banuelos-Hernandez AE., Diaz de Leon-Sanchez, LJ., Fragoso-Serrano M., Perez-Flores LJ, Mendoza-Espinoza JA., Rivera-Cabrera F. (December, 2017). Studies on phytochemical, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic, and antiproliferative activities of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia extracts. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27951745 
  3. Echinacea. (n.d.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/echinacea.html 
  4. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/EchinaceaPurpurearoot.html  

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.