You’ve probably seen that pretty purple coneflower growing in gardens year after year. That flower is Echinacea (derived from the Greek work meaning, “hedgehog), and there are so many uses for it that my mind has exploded. This is a plant that everyone should have in their medicine garden.
Echinacea is native to the midwest United States and has been used for more than 400 years. Apparently, Echinacea was one of the most used plants until the 1930s when antibiotics were introduced. Since then, the use of Echinacea has decreased, which is too bad because you can do so much with it.
Uses for Echinacea
If you haven’t read my disclaimer, make sure you do that! This is for informational purposes only. Read the disclaimer here.
Echinacea has been used:
- to treat insect bites and bee stings
- to treat snake bites (both venomous and non-venomous; also probably why Echinacea is sometimes referred to as “Kansas snakeroot)
- to treat wounds (it is an antiseptic)
- to treat sore gums and toothache and tonsillitis
- to stimulate the immune system
- to treat colds, coughs (including whooping cough), bronchitis, sore throat, and tuberculosis
- to help treat sore eyes
- to treat mumps
- to relieve pain from arthritis
- to treat boils
- to treat blood poisoning
- to treat acne
- to help relieve migraines
- to treat meningitis
- to treat ear infections
- to reduce inflammation
- for digestion
- because it is antimicrobial (kills microorganisms or keeps them from growing)
- as pain relief
- to treat urinary tract and vaginal yeast infections
Parts of Echinacea Used
I watched a webinar recently from The Grow Network where I was told that all parts of the Echinacea plant can be used. The University of Maryland says that “the roots have high concentrations of volatile oils (odorous compounds) while the above-ground parts of the plant tend to contain more polysaccharides (substances known to trigger the activity of the immune system).”
The Grow Network suggests growing Echinacea yourself, as most commercial Echinacea is low quality. In fact, ConsumerLab.com tested 11 commercial Echinacea products and found that 10% of the products did not even have Echinacea in them.
- Echinacea is related to the daisy family, so if you have allergies to anything daisy-related this plant probably isn’t for you.
- Do not take Echinacea more than 6-8 weeks.
- Do not take Echinacea if you have AIDS, or auto-immune diseases or are pregnant or breast-feeding
- The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism. Malcom Stewart.
- The American Pharmaceutical Association: Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. Andrea Peirce.
- Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Claire Kowalchik.