Herbs For Health: Echinacea

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Herbs For Health: Echinacea

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is probably one of the most familiar medicinal herbs. It is well known as an immune system enhancer. For many people it is their first introduction to natural medicine. It is known to have few if any side effects. I have yet to meet anyone who cannot take this herb safely. This herb is my constant companion when I travel. I use it prophylactically to help fight off all those nasty germs people love to share. Can you say airplane recirculated air?

At the very basic level Echinacea is known for the following properties:

  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Antibiotic

Making Your Own Medicine

Grow Your Own or Purchase

If you choose to grow your own, Echinacea purpurea is a good choice. It’s easy to grow and effective. It has the added bonus of adding beauty to your garden. You can even grow it in pots. If you purchase your herbs, choose someone who is responsible and ethical toward wild populations. I mention this because some species are now endangered due to being harvested in the wild without thought or care. Look for a source who cultivates their own organically grown plants and purchase from them.

Echinacea Tincture: The Short Answer

Taking Echinacea as a Tincture is one of the most common and popular ways. They are easy to make and have a long shelf life. What is a Tincture? It is a very concentrated liquid extract of herb. A Tincture is made using a solvent that extracts the medicinal components of the herb. Alcohol is the most commonly used solvent, but vegetable glycerin and apple cider vinegar are also used.

Vegetable glycerin and apple cider vinegar would be the solvents of choice for adults who are sensitive to alcohol as well as for children. They are not as potent, but they do work.

If you are going to use alcohol, find one that is 80 – 100 proof. You will find that information on the label of the bottle. You could use vodka, gin, brandy, or whatever your preference might be.

If you use vegetable glycerin, use only food grade and dilute it 2:1 with water.

Method

  • Chop your dried herbs finely
  • Place them in a glass jar
  • Pour enough solvent over your herbs to cover them by 2 to 3 inches
  • Seal the jar and set it in a warm sunny spot

The jar will stay in that spot for 4 – 6 weeks. You will shake the jar daily. Why? It keep the herbs and and the solvent well circulated as well as keeping the herbs from settling on the bottom of the jar.

When the product is ready, strain the herbs from the liquid and pour it into a jar or jars with tight-fitting lids. Store it in a cool dark place. You need to shield the Tincture from light as light will degrade it. You might consider using dark colored jars. I like using little dropper jars – a jar with a dropper that screws on.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Tinctures are dosed using drops. A dropper bottle seems to me to be the perfect container for storing them. Store the bottle without the dropper, using the regular screw on lid. When you are ready to begin using it, then place the dropper on the bottle.

Alcohol based Tinctures will last for years. Glycerin based Tinctures may last 2 – 3 years. A vinegar based Tincture should last at least a year.

That’s the short answer for making Tinctures.

Purchase Ready To Use

Not everyone wants to make their own herbal medicine products. You can purchase them ready to use.

Did you know?

Drink a cup of coffee 30 minutes before a meal and it will help suppress your appetite so you eat less.

Drink a cup of coffee after your meal and it will aid in digestion.

If you like this kind of information, then you will be pleased to know that I am working on a book for those interested in going deeper into the herbal medicine world. Stayed tuned for updates…

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Comments (14)

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  1. I have never thought of making my own echinacea I make some many other thing it would make sense to give it a tray. The problem is there is just so much time and that makes it difficult to decide which thing to make first. I also need to grow it first… LOL.

    • Geek Girl says:

      You don't need to grow it, but you certainly can.

  2. Echinacea and vitamin c are the first line of cold defense around here.

    • Geek Girl says:

      Here as well. πŸ™‚

  3. namirusso says:

    I used to be a big fan of echinacea and took it daily. That was when I was working 7 days a week and partying like it was 1999. I went 18 months without catching a cold! Thanks for the info and reminding me to reintroduce that to my germ bags.

    • Geek Girl says:

      It's a great first line of defense. πŸ™‚

  4. Jeannette Paladino says:

    I hadn't thought about echinacea in a while. I stopped taking it a long time ago when it was discovered that the kind you buy in a bottle can be tainted or not even not a pure product. So making it yourself is good advice — and probably healthier.

    I did a search and found this on webmd.com. Thought you might find it helpful: "There are concerns about the quality of some echinacea products on the market. Echinacea products are frequently mislabeled, and some may not even contain echinacea, despite label claims. Don’t be fooled by the term “standardized.” It doesn’t necessarily indicate accurate labeling. Also, some echinacea products have been contaminated with selenium, arsenic, and lead."

    • Geek Girl says:

      That sounds a lot like drinking water from the tap. People don't realize that although some chemicals are tested for and can come in at 'acceptable' levels, many chemicals are not tested for. I refuse to drink unfiltered water for this reason. You never know what is in your drinking water.

      When people purchase an herbal product they need to take great care who they purchase it from. Making your own means you know exactly what is in it. πŸ™‚

  5. JeriWB says:

    I've always thought they were pretty flowers, but never had looked into the exact health benefits. Now I know πŸ™‚

    • Geek Girl says:

      They are pretty flowers. You can just look at them. πŸ™‚

  6. yearwoodcom says:

    This is so cool. I knew Echinacea was good for you but I had no idea you could make this stuff yourself. You have to love mother nature, beauty and brains in one tidy package.

    • Geek Girl says:

      Mother Nature is pretty wise. πŸ™‚

  7. Echinacea definitely works. Have used it for about 20 years when I get a cold or something like that. For those of you who have not tried it, do! What's the point in taking antibiotics when echinacea can do the trick?

    • Geek Girl says:

      I agree. One of the issues with antibiotics is that you build up a resistance to them.