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Herbs > Echinacea (echinacea augustifolia)

Also known as Black Sampson, rudbeckia, coneflower and Sampson root, Echinacea is native to the United States. It has been used extensively by Native Americans for centuries, but has only recently come to the attention of the rest of the world. Today, much of what is known about echinacea was learned from traditional Native American medicine. Its excellent antiviral and immune-system boosting applications have made it very popular, and it is now widely available.

Healing Uses:

Unlike many other herbs, echinacea is most effective as a preventative, rather than a cure. During the cold and flu season, regular consumption of echinacea extract while healthy will boost the immune system and prevent infections from occurring. The most effective way of taking echinacea is simply taking the extract which is widely available in capsule form from health stores, and even from supermarkets. Take 1-2 capsules per day. While it is good to take when colds and flu are making the rounds, it isn’t recommended to continue taking echinacea indefinitely.

In addition, echinacea can be taken at the first sign of a cold or flu to reduce the severity of the illness, or even nip it in the bud completely. Take two capsules of extract every hour at the first sign of cold or flu. This dosage of echinacea should not be continued for more than a day or two. Echinacea tea, available in tea bags from herbal tea companies, is also an excellent way of taking the herb for this purpose - one cup of tea per hour.

More controversial studies into echinacea have shown it to be beneficial in treating a very wide range of infections and viruses, including tonsillitis, tuberculosis and meningitis. It is known to increase the production of white blood cells, which fight to eliminate all types of infectious diseases. German scientists have found that echinacea can mimic interfon, a protein which occurs naturally in the body in small amounts. Echinacea, they found, would boost the body’s natural supply of interfon to such an extent that it could reduce the size of malignant tumours and resist the AIDS virus. However, these uses of echinacea are experimental at best. A professional herbalist should be consulted before using echinacea for these reasons, and it should not replace conventional treatments.

Externally, echinacea can be used to cleanse and heal wounds. It is most effective in a poultice, mixed with comfrey. Mix 1 tablespoon of echinacea root extract and 1 tablespoon of powdered comfrey extract with just enough boiling water to form a smooth paste. Allow this to steep for 10 minutes, then applied directly to the affected area. Cover the herb with gauze, and leave in place for at least 30 minutes.

Other Uses:
It has been reported that Native American medicine-men would chew raw echinacea root to numb their mouths to such an extent that they could place burning coals in their mouth without pain or injury. They would use this technique to demonstrate their power to their tribes. This use of echinacea is not recommended!
Research is being conducted into the possible application of echinacea as an environmentally-sound insecticide. Studies have thus far shown it to be toxic to mosquito larvae and certain crop-specific pests. However, use of echinacea as an insecticide is not yet economically viable, and the preparation required makes it too complex for domestic use.

Growing Echinacea:
Echinacea can be grown from seeds, planted in autumn. They should be placed on the top of the soil surface and tamped down, rather than fully covered with soil, and then covered with straw mulch for protection. They prefer a lime-rich soil, and good drainage. The roots can be harvested after 12 months.




Index
Quick Reference
Alfalfa
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Coriander
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Kalonji
Kava
Lavender
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Mullien
Sage
Sandalwood
Sarsaparilla
St Johns Wort
Tee Tree
Thyme
Tribulus
Turmeric


The Complete Book of Herbs

 
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All Information is provided for educational purposes only and not intended
to be used for any therapeutic purpose, neither is it intended to diagnose,
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