Tips for using echinacea in herbal medicine and home remedies

Echinacea protects against colds and flu. Scientific tests have shown that echinacea increases the production of white blood cells. It also increases the body's production of interferon which helps fight colds and flu virus. Echinacea should only be taken for six to eight weeks at a time. Stop for two or three weeks and then begin again. Echinacea is easy to grow in any dry, sunny location. It is draught resistant and hates to get wet feet.

Echinacea is also known as purple coneflower.
Echinacea is also known as purple coneflower. Photo courtesy of

Use echinacea to build immunity. Echinacea is one of the best immune builders in herbal medicine.

Echinacea boosts the immunity and increases resistance to disease.

Echinacea or Purple Cone Flower is a well-known plant. It is valued for boosting the immune system as well as producing beautiful blooms in the flower garden. As a medicinal herb, echinacea strengthens the body's resistance and helps fight infection caused by bacteria, fungus, and virus. It also is considered a lymphatic tonic.

Use echinacea tincture as a gargle to treat sore throat.

When using the herb as a wash for external applications, apply to affected area frequently. Dried echinacea can be used as a dusting powder on boils and eczema. The root is known to help kidney infections. Diluted echinacea tincture makes a good gargle for all throat problems, especially sore throats. Echinacea tea can be used for colds, flu, fever blisters, gingivitis, yeast infection, and food poisoning.

Use echinacea with elder flower or catnip to treat congestion.

If treating any condition with mucus, phlegm, or congestion, combine echinacea with catnip or elder flower. When using echinacea for helping get over the flu, use with fever reducing herbs like yarrow.

Native Americans were familiar with echinacea. Among other things, they used it for snakebite, fever, and to treat old, stubborn wounds.

Plant echinacea in dry areas for beautiful blooms.

Echinacea is native to North America and is considered a wildflower. It grows abundantly in the great plains and does well here in the North Georgia mountains during dryer years. Echinacea, or purple coneflower, is resistant to heat, and cold but doesn't like wet conditions. Butterflies and bees love the knee-high plant. Echinacea makes a beautiful cut flower that is long lasting. Many  varieties are available in garden centers and some have a sweet scent. Echinacea blooms the first year from seed if planted early.

It is easy to prepare echinacea for winter storage. Just harvest after the plant flowers, wash off any dust, tear into pieces, and dry in an airy location. Store in air tight containers away from insects, light, and heat.

* High doses of echinacea can cause nausea and dizziness. Consult with a physician before taking echinacea if you have an autoimmune disease such as TB, lupus, collagen disease, or multiple sclerosis. Sometimes people that are allergic to daisies, mums, asters, or ragweed may experience a reaction to echinacea. Always consult with your physician before using any herbal remedy.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

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