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Echinacea

AKA: Purple Cone Flower, Narrow-Leaf Purple Coneflower, Black Sampson, Comb Flower, Hedgehog, Indian Head, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot, Widows Comb, Elk Root.

Propagation: It is native to North America and is found in wild prairies and open woodlands and have 9 species. It grows up to 4 ft in height and has hairy leaves, unbranched stems and sprout purple flowers whose petals grow downward from the bristly center. It reseeds readily and blooms into late fall. Natural rainfall is usually sufficient for its needs, and it likes a nice mulch in the winter, but it usually doesn’t need much in the way of care. To grow Echinacea from seed, cut a stalk with a spent flower, enclose the flower in a paper bag and hang the plant upside down. The plant will release the seeds into the bag when they are ready. Separate the seeds from the chaff, dry them for a few weeks, and then store them in a cool dry place. The seeds are best when used in less than a year, but they remain viable for at least 7 years. If you plan on storing them for a long time, the seeds should be refrigerated.


Folklore: This plant/herb was used extensively by the native American people sort of as a cure all. It is believed that carrying a bouquet brings strength and protection. The coneflower is considered one of the sacred Life Medicines of the Navajo tribe. Early settlers soon adopted the plant’s medicinal value from Native Americans as a remedy for colds and influenza and took it to Europe in the 17th century. Winnebago medicine men used it to make their mouths insensitive to heat so that they could put a live coal into their mouths to demonstrate their power. These feats helped create confidence in the ability of the medicine men to heal. It is believed by pagans to bring prosperity, luck, inner strength, an ritual cleansing.


Medicinal: It has been used to treat toothaches, sore throats, coughs, and infections, burns, wounds, ulcers, and other skin conditions, freshly scraped root as a poultice against hydrophobia caused by the bites of rabid animals, tonsillitis, stomachache, and pain in the bowels, rheumatism, arthritis, mumps and measles. It is a Antibiotic, Anti-Allergenic, Bactericidal, Collagen protectant, Cytokine stimulant against tumor cells and microorganisms, Immune stimulant, Lymphatic tonic, Wound healer. Scientifically, echinacea has been found to stimulate the production of leukocytes, the white blood cells that fight infection in the body. It has a mild antibiotic effect, helping to protect cells from such invading pathogens as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The plant both stimulates the properdin/complement system, which helps the body control and prevent infections, and increases production of alpha- and alpha-2 gamma globulins, which prevents viral and other infections. Researchers believe that two chemicals in particular, polysaccharides and glycoproteins, boost your body’s immune system. Your immune system helps you fight off germs that cause infection. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, herpes, HIV/AIDS, human papilloma virus (HPV), bloodstream infections (septicemia), tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, ear infection, swine flu, warts, and nose and throat infections called diphtheria.


***Large doses can cause nausea and dizziness. If you are allergic to daisies or other wildflowers you may also have a reaction to this flower as well. People taking medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants) should not take echinacea, as echinacea supplements may interfere with the medication. This includes people with tuberculosis, leukemia, diabetes, HIV or AIDS, and any other autoimmune disease. This also includes people who have received organ transplants. ***

Summary:

In summary, Echinacea is an all-around healing plant. Most people associate it with boosting the immune system but as you can see it is far more beneficial than common knowledge allows. This is a VERY good plant/herb to incorporate into your life!


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