Organic Emily

Medicinal Herb – Cone Flowers

Echinacea plant

Medicinal Herb Post #24 written on June 28, 2018

Cone Flower – Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia also in this group is Black Eyed Susan – Rudbekia hirta

This is one really cool plant and is very popular for good reason. It is considered one of the best immune enhancing herbs out there. It can have some residual buildup in the body so it should be used only 2 weeks at a time with breaks in between if using long term.

Echinacea is fairly easy to grow. Mine goes to seed and actually grows like a weed in my yard, but that’s okay I use every bit of it! It loves full sun, but may need to be protected from really hot afternoon days in the summer. It grows wild in the mountains and is considered a drought tolerant plant. Rudbekia is also used just like Echinacea except it is a little stronger. In fact the flowers are almost as strong as its roots. Echinacea is fairly mild and should be used with another simulating herb like, peppermint, cayenne, ginger or yarrow etc. Rudbekia doesn’t need a simulating herb for the body to use it properly.

As an immune booster it stimulates the body to produce more T-cells increasing the bodies defense against foreign invaders. It is a strong antibiotic and a good antiviral. It needs to be taken at the onset of an illness. If the illness persists and you start to feel worse stop taking it. It will increase cytokines and can make the illness worse. At that point take an herb like grape leaves to lower cytokines. Look up the Elder post I did a while back for a full list of herbs that increase and decrease cytokines. I like taking it with elder, yarrow and peppermint to kick out a nasty illness. You can make a whole plant tincture by collecting the leaves and flowers as they come on and the root in the fall. Be sure to only collect the root of plants that are at least 3 years old so you don’t kill it. Cover the dry herb in a jar with 100 proof vodka or brandy. Put a lid on the jar and shake once a day for 2-4 weeks. Strain and store in an amber bottle. Use as needed. You can always make a hot infusion or glycerite as well.

Echinacea was originally called “snake oil” back in the day. Today that term has a bit of a bad wrap, but it has a purpose and its named is well assigned. Echinacea contains a chemical in it called hyaluronic acid. It’s also found in the body and used to glue our cells back together when damage has been done. Viper snakes, like rattlesnakes and spiders, like brown recluse have a chemical in their venom called hyaluronidase that breaks down tissue, liquifying it. So echinacea does 2 things, it stops the venom from spreading and stimulates the body to produce hyaluronic acid in addition to what’s in the herb. Pretty sweet! A really effective herbal formula for poisonous bites like this would be to use equal parts: Echinacea root or use whole plant (can also use Rudbekia flower or root), Dandelion root to help the liver eliminate toxins, Marshmallow root to soothe and calm tissues so they don’t die and Plantain leaf to help draw out poisons. You would apply a poultice every 3 hours the first day then 2x a day after that. You can use this same formula for other serious poisonous bites and stings.

Along the lines of using Echinacea to help the body produce more hyaluronic acid, it is very beneficial to use when there has been any damage to joints, cartilage, bones and connective tissues. I have a friend who recently used it along with other herbs like comfrey to heal a bad knee that would eventually need surgery because the cartilage had been worn down. After a month of using it she has felt much relief and can do a lot more than she used too. I have another friend that runs marathons and suffered a stress fracture in her hip. She also used the echinacea along with other herbs and took care of the problem in less than 6 weeks. She’s back to running with no issues. Echinacea needs to be used in large quantities, like 1 tablespoons 3x a day with a one week break every 2 weeks.

I simply can’t say enough good about this herb!

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, Mom of 4 cute kids, Yoga instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

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