Just a glance at the lavender-hued petals and deep crimson center of Echinacea flowers can brighten a gloomy day. That’s probably why this wildflower is a staple in many gardens. Plus, with many medicinal uses, echinacea is a wonderful addition to your home apothecary, especially during cold and flu season.
Historically, Native Americans used echinacea for more therapeutic purposes than any other herb. Fresh root was chewed to numb a toothache while juice made from the roots was used in baths and salves to treat skin irritations and even snakebites. By the mid-1800s, American herbalists were using it to treat cold, cough and other respiratory symptoms. Usage in America declined in the 1900s but picked up in Germany where much of the research on the herb has been done.
Today, echinacea is one of the most well-studied herbs. Herbalists and physicians from many different countries use it for the treatment of the common cold, flu, cough, sore throat and fever. While many believe echinacea can be used to prevent illness, it’s more effective at reducing the intensity and length of a cold by about two days. Echinacea also helps boost immune function thereby enhancing the body’s ability to resist infection.
Echinacea can be taken as a tea, tincture or in capsule form. Daily use of tea is a wonderful addition to your relaxation ritual. When taking echinacea to combat a cold, it’s best to take it at the first sign of illness. Ask your holistic physician which form and dose of echinacea is best for you.
- Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants(2012) 65-67. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Online. Accessed 17 Dec 2018: http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/(X(1)S(umfwo0iqznos3t55f00s4155))/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=nd&pt=100&id=981&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
- Pizzorno, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of natural medicine. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone.