On receiving these delightful pictures of my sister’s garden in North Vancouver, presently bursting with Echinacea flowers, I thought I’d share them here and at the same time discuss the medicine they so generously offer over and above their visual beauty.
These flowers grow wild in Eastern and Central North America where, for at least 400 years the Turtle Island indigenous folk have been using them for healing wounds, respiratory infections as well as a general “cure-all’ and preventative.
Echinacea actually refers to a genus of nine or ten species of flowering plants in the daisy family of which three are used in herbal supplements — Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida. The whole plant, leaves, stem, roots and flower, can be used to make herbal teas, echinacea tinctures and extracts.
In preparation for the cold and flu season
I often take a few drops of echinacea tincture in water daily at the first sign of a cold as I know from experience that I will recover faster. I also encourage those who are travelling to remote and distant places to start this protocol a few weeks prior to leaving as a preventative and to build resilience to unfamiliar infections.
The flowers can be steeped alongside more flavoursome herbals such as lemongrass, ginger, cayenne pepper etc for an uplifting and refreshing tea blend. They can be used fresh or dried.
Although, as with most things natural and wholistic, human-based research on effectiveness is limited, it’s widely accepted that Echinacea helps:
- improve immunity,
- combat bacterial and viral infections
- reduce inflammation.
Echinacea plants are said to be loaded with antioxidants which help defend your cells against oxidative stress, a state linked to chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, heart disease etc).
As a homeopathic remedy I have prescribed echinacea in low potency or tincture as a blood cleanser and in higher potencies in certain cases of recurring boils on the skin, with satisfying results and when other symptoms fit the totality.