Echinacea spp. – Echinacea

Echinacea, Cone FlowersEchinacea spp.

Echinacea = e-kee-nah-kee-a, from Gr. echinos (a hedgehog) referring to the prickly receptacles, scales;

Identification: Echinacea grows 30-100 cm tall from a taproot. It has bristly hairs on the stem and the leaves. The leaves are mostly basal and broadly lanceolate, 10 – 50 mm long. The solitary flower head appears from July to October and varies in colour from rose to purple. The taste of the root and the leaf is sweet at first, followed by a tingling feeling in the mouth.

Distribution & Habitat: This plant grows in dry, open areas and prairies throughout the United States.

Preparation & Uses: According to many authorities this plant was used medicinally by the Plains Indians more often than any other plant. It was considered the great antidote, especially in the case of snake bites, stings and poisoning. The herb was smoked to cure headaches and blown into horse s noses to treat distemper. The root can be used to treat toothache, and for swollen glands (as in mumps) by chewing. Medicine men used to bathe their hand in a decoction of the plant so they could do slight of hand with hot coals as a form of the ritual — pulling fire out of a patient. The juice of the plant was used to treat burns. The Sioux used the scraped root as a remedy for rabies, snakebites and septic sores. The Meskwakis Indians used the plant to cure fits and stomach cramps. The root was chewed by the Cheyenne as part of the Sun Dance ritual, after first going several days without food, water or sleep. These Indians also used the powdered root for mouth and gum sores, for rheumatism, arthritis, mumps and measles.

European and North American herbalists have long used this plant as a antidote and as a blood purifier. The most famous North American tradition of Western herbology comes from the Thomsonian line in which Echinacea was considered the greatest antioxidant, correcting the blood, liver and lymphatic systems of impurities. It was also used to increase the body’s resistance to infection.

Orthodox medicine has never agreed with the concept of blood purifiers (alterative), but recent research has uncovered some remarkable information on cone flower. It can regulate and stimulate the immune system. It can stimulate the body to produce its own interferon, stimulate T-lymphocytes, and work as an antioxidant. It has been shown to work both as a prophylactic and curative in many cases of infectious diseases. In my clinical experience with this herb, I also find it one of the best builders of the immune system and feel it (or a brand name product containing it) will become a household word one day. There were over 200 pharmaceutical preparations containing echinacea in Germany by the early 1990 s.

Echinacea is a great herbal prophylactic, helping to prevent colds and flus, specifically during the first stage of an influenza. Echinacea is very functional in speeding up tissue repair, especially connective tissue, with a cortisone-like activity.