Echinacea (Asteraceae echinacea)
Echinacea is a herbaceous flowering plant that belongs to the daisy family.
Echinacea has been said to have eucalyptus and menthol undertones and when taken in a medicinal format, can taste alcoholic.
Echinacea plants are perennials with upright steams which grown approximately 50-100mm high. Plant seeds in a little moist sand for 3-4 weeks to help speed germination and then plant in soil in spring. Echinacea does not like to be overwatered and adapts to most climatic conditions, growing in either sun or semi-shade.
Echinacea was used by the North American Indians for its general medicinal qualities. From the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, Echinacea was popularised in Europe and America for its use in herbal medicines which were thought to prevent the common cold.
The medicinal qualities of Echinacea are quite controversial. Whilst some claim its antibiotic attributes prevent infection by revving up the immune system and fighting bacteria, other studies have proven that Echinacea products do not help treat or prevent the common cold.
Despite this Echinacea is used in herbal medicines to assist in the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, bladder infections, yeast infections, bed sores and as a mouth wash for painful gums and teeth.
Echinacea has also been thought to retard cancerous growths, reduce tumours and promote issue repair however once again studies have proven there is no evidence it can help with the prevention and treatment cancer. Some claim however that Echinacea can help relieve the side effects from cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Facts About Echinacea
The whole Echinacea plant can use used. Use the leaves in tea or add with carrot and apple in juice. Its roots are most commonly used in medicines.
Echinacea’s pink/ purple flowers are sometimes sold as bouquets. When the petals wilt and fall off, the centre of the flower dries and is covered with sharp, pointed bracts which resemble a hedgehog. For this reason, the name Echinacea is derived from the Greek meaning for hedgehog.
Can you continually take Echinacea?
As Echinacea aids in awakening the immune system, it should be used for periods of 6-8 weeks before taking a break of 2 weeks. This is because the immune system should not be permanently kept in an alert state.
How do I make Echinacea tea?
Use 1 teaspoon of very finely cut fresh Echinacea leaves and combine with 1 cup of boiling water.