Is Echinacea just a good home remedy for the common cold or does it hold many more health benefits?
If you’re looking for the answer, you’re in the right place!
Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, belongs to the sunflower family. It is a highly sought-after healing herb, especially at the onset of the cold and flu season, when people are exposed to these ailments on a daily basis. When properly used, it can be the closest thing one can have to a fast common cold remedy. It is generally safe to use, with no major side effects, even when used frequently and in high doses.
The herb works by stimulating the activity of the cells tasked to ward off all types of infection. Unlike an antibiotic that directly attacks harmful viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, purple coneflower increases and strengthens the immune cells to make them more efficient in fighting these unwanted intruders, including cancer cells. It stimulates growth of new tissues for faster healing of wounds, promotes T-cell activation, lessens the inflammation in arthritis, and relieves inflammatory skin disorders.
Benefits of Echinacea
The plant is known to be beneficial for treating a wide range of health conditions including:
- Common cold
- Sore throat
- Intestinal gas
- Stomach ache
- Enlarged liver
- Liver damage
- Skin ulcers
In general, Andrographis paniculata helps cleanse the body and strengthen the immune system. Its primary benefits and uses include the following:
The herb is known to detoxify the lungs. It helps reduce the swelling of the respiratory tract, throat, and the sinuses during colds. It has mucolytic and expectorant properties that help break down and expel mucus and other infectious elements from sinuses, the respiratory tract, and lungs.
It is an effective means for addressing the pain and discomfort associated with swollen tonsils, sore throat, sinus congestion and chronic coughing. It helps to manufacture anti-bodies that help alleviate the symptoms that come with respiratory conditions. It demonstrates a cooling effect on the body that helps to reduce fever due to respiratory infections.
The herb promotes healthy liver function. It aids the healthy manufacturing and optimal flow of bile. It helps the body to fight and recover from conditions like enlarged liver, liver damage from excessive use of medicines, and jaundice.
Andrographis paniculata helps the body improve its natural defenses. It provides powerful immune support and promotes health and general well-being. It helps purify the lymph and blood, thus increasing the body’s ability to fight infection. It enables the body to become highly efficient in processing and using nutrients from food.
The herb helps in efficient digestion. It helps address complaints of symptoms related to digestive problems like diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, colic, and gas.
Andrographis paniculata has medicinal properties demonstrated to help the body fight a wide array of infections. It is effective in fighting pneumonia, tuberculosis, leprosy, and malaria. It is used to counter the symptoms of leptopirosis, rabies, and cholera. There are indications that it helps fight sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV/AIDS.
Are you getting the sense that echinacea is a wonderful herbal remedy for more than just effective common cold treatment?
Other benefits include:
- Keeps the respiratory tract healthy
- Cleanses and strengthens the liver
- Bolsters the immune system
- Aids in digestion
- Fights infectious diseases
- Fights skin conditions
- Other uses
The herb fights skin problems like allergies, itchiness, ulcers, and common wounds.
The herb is used to prevent atherosclerosis or arterial hardening. It prevents heart disease.
The herb is also used to treat insect and snake bites. It helps promote a healthy appetite. It is also effective at killing germs due to its astringent, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties.
What are its Ayurvedic Energetics?
Andrographis paniculata has a bitter taste. It has a cooling action and a pungent post digestive effect.
The eye-catching perennial was first used by Native Americans, and it was adopted as a medicine by the early settlers. Members of the medical profession in the early years of the United States depended heavily on the herb for the treatment of various illnesses. However, with the advent of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical medicines, it slowly lost its popularity.
Today, a lot of medical professionals are re-discovering the benefits that can be enjoyed from the herb. Various forms of purple coneflower have been made available in the market. In Germany alone, over 40 different products are registered.
Echinacea has long been used to treat infectious diseases and to enhance immune function, and it is likewise used today to help cure colds, influenza, chronic fatigue syndrome, the HIV virus and even AIDS.
Based on research, the herb has properties that can stimulate the natural immune function of the body. This is done by increasing the level of interferon, elevating the white blood cell activity, and triggering the attack by the blood cells on invading microbes. The herb also promotes the production of natural disease and cancer-fighting substances in the body.
Aside from its role as an immune system stimulant, the perennial is also ideal for use by people who suffer from recurring skin disorders like boils. It can also be used as a tonic to help the liver fight the harmful effects of toxins from the environment.
Dosage and Preparation
The herb doesn’t have a particularly pleasing taste when taken as a tea. Thus it is usually used in the form of extract pills or taken as tincture. Based on studies, however, it is more effective when taken in tincture or tea form rather than in powdered form contained in capsules. At the onset of flu, colds, bladder infection, sinus infection, and other similar ailments, herbalists recommend frequent, large doses of the herb.
For acute cases of colds or flu: Take 1 tsp of tincture every 1-3 hours; or 1-2 capsules every 2-3 hrs. for the first two days then reduce dosage to 2 tsp of tincture or 6 capsules/day.
For chronic infections: Take½ tsp of tincture or 2 capsules 3 times daily for 3 weeks; then abstain for a week before resuming.
Concerned whether this herbal remedy is for you? Read this study on echinacea safety.
How to Make Echinacea Tincture
The best quality Echinacea extract is with grain alcohol (ethanol) but you can product a quality product with glycerite if you object to using alcohol as the carrier for your tincture,
So lets get started teaching you how to make an Echinacea Tincture
If you are using dried Echinacea, the standard ratio for a tincture is 1:4 (one part dried Echinacea, by weight, to 4 parts solvent by liquid volume). Each kind of herb also requires that the solvent have the correct mix of alcohol and water. In the case of echinacea, you need to have 40% of the solvent to be alcohol and 60% water.
This happens to be an easy one the prepare because you can buy 80 proof vodka which gives you exactly the alcohol-to-water ratio that you need for, i.e. 40% alcohol / 60% water.
Theoretically, for 8 ounces of tincture you would need to start with 2 ounces by weight of fairly finely ground Echinacea (a coffee grinding works great) and 8 ounces of 80 proof vodka by volume (1 cup). I say theoretically because you are not going to get eight ounces of tincture as a finished product because the Echinacea will soak up a lot of the liquid, and unless you have a good hydraulic or screw press you won’t be able to recover all the liquid.
Probably a better starting point would be 4 ounces (by weight) of Echinacea and 16 ounces (by volume) of the alcohol. Put the Echinacea and vodka in a jar together and make sure the alcohol covers the herb. You will need to shake the mixture once or twice daily for two weeks (you may need to tamp the herb back down under the liquid after each time you shake it).
After two weeks you can strain the liquid out by putting the mixture into a clean cotton cloth and, if you don’t have a press, SQUEEZE LIKE CRAZY!!! The more you squeeze and twist the mixture, the more liquid you will recover. After the initial squeezing you can run the liquid through another cloth for a final filtering job.
The finished tincture will keep for up to three years. Be sure to keep it in a dark colored bottle so it isn’t spoiled by exposure to light. The standard dosage for a 1:4 echinacea tincture is 1-3 ml (1/4-1/2 tsp.) up to four times per day.
The suggested maximum dosage for one day is 15ml (3 tsp.). For an acute onset of a cold, flu, etc., you can take 1/2 tsp. every two hours for the first two-to-three days, then back off to the standard dosage until your symptoms have improved.
I believe its best not to use this Echinacea on a daily basis: its one you want to reserve for when you really want to hit an oncoming bacterial/viral with the kitchen sink! If it is necessary to use it on a daily basis, its best used in combination with other herbs in a blended formula.
Good luck making your own Echinacea tincture!
Have questions? Have good tips to share about your experiences? Please, share them below! We’d love to hear from you.