Echinacea, also referred to as purple coneflower, is a flowering plant and part of the daisy family. Found in eastern and central North America, it is grown mostly in moist to dry grasslands and open woody areas. The “coneflower” name comes from the echinacea’s conical, prickly seed.
The petals around the seed point downwards and are rose in color; the leaves are hairy, with a rough texture. This plant is popularly renowned for its medicinal properties. Historically, pioneers settling into Northern America used this herb for snakebites and a general pain reliever.
Health Benefits of Echinacea
Echinacea has bacteria fighting properties and is commonly used to fight infections, such as the common cold and other respiratory infections.
Besides relieving respiratory infections, echinacea treats symptoms of the flu, as well vaginal yeast infections, bloodstream infections and urinary tract infections. It is also used in treatment for genital herpes, syphilis, malaria, and the gum disease.
Infections aside, echinacea’s pain relieving qualities are used to help those who suffer from chronic fatigue, migraines, snakebites, dizziness, and general pain. It is sometimes used to aid those diagnosed with ADHD.
When applied to the skin, echinacea can treat ulcers, skin wounds, burns, eczema, psoriasis, boils, bee stings, sun damaged skin, and herpes.
How to Use Echinacea
Echinacea is available commercially in forms of capsules and tea. Or you can choose to use the plant as is, to maximize its potent healing properties. Grow in your own backyard or purchase from local botanical stores.
To prepare the herb, when the flowers are about to bloom, cut a portion of the root, the flower and leaves. Wash and cut the root into pieces to dry in direct sunlight. Wash and dry the flowers and leaves on a screen. Store all components in separate airtight glass concealers.
To make echinacea tea, boil the flower and leaves in water for approximately 20 minutes, or simmer the root for approximately 30 minutes. Strain out all components, and your tea is ready for consumption.
To make echinacea tincture, you’ll need a clean glass jar with lid, 80 proof vodka (or apple cider vinegar), and ½ cup dried leaves (or a mixture of leaf and root).
- Fill the jar (1/2 full) with dried echinacea leaf (or a combination of leaf and root), and pour vodka or ACV to cover the herb. Stir with a spoon then place the lid on the jar.
- Store in a cool dry place, shake it daily, and leave for at up to six months (though it can be used in three weeks).
- Strain with cheesecloth and store the tincture in a clean glass jar or dark colored dropper bottles.
Similarly, echinacea can be used in juices, skin creams and more.