When the days get shorter and the temperature drops we know that the season of colds and “Winter flu” will soon be upon us and it is time to check our kitchen cupboards for Echinacea supplies.
Many of the herbs we use routinely are from distant parts of the world and have been incorporated into daily use in the Western world gradually as a result of plant hunters dedicated explorations of India, China and many mountainous regions with difficult terrain.
Not so with Echinacea. It has been used by Native Americans at least by the Comanche and Sioux for hundreds of years. It is a well-studied herb and used routinely all round the world and a big favourite in Germany and the UK.
The main use is for treatment of colds, flu and similar viral conditions. Big pictures of the beautiful purple daisy-like flowers of Echinacea are to be seen in most high streets. I wonder if the herbs that looks attractive get more use than plainer or less appealing herbs?
The ability to boost a weakened immune system means that there are many uses for Echinacea Tea. Skin conditions like boils, eczema and urticaria may respond well and it’s anti-inflammatory action may well be why many herbal practitioners get good results treating their patients with arthritis.
Traditionally Echinacea is called a “Blood cleanser”. This does not fit with modern notions of how remedies work so we need to translate this into a more modern terminology to get to grips with the power of Echinacea.
So we can ask, “What is there in the blood that needs to be cleansed or removed?” and 2 things spring to mind.
When the body responds to a virus or parasite or allergen a whole slew of anti-inflammatory chemicals are produced in response to limit or destroy the cause.
We want the virus or tapeworm or bacteria dead and we want the remains of its body removed from our bloodstream as soon as possible.
In short we want a herb that will cleanse our blood. We want Echinacea or other herbs that do this job and such herbs are traditionally called “Alteratives”.
The other cause of the inflammatory response is Cancer.
There is evidence to suggest the inflammatory and immune systems may inhibit the development of cancer.
It is also true that long term inflammation in the body – from neglected allergies, candida, chronic bacterial infections for example may lead to the development for cancer.
Inflammation is a powerful tool to deal with short term problems but long term it can be a killer.
All the more reason to use powerful herbs like Echinacea, Cayenne, Golden Seal, Garlic etc. in your Natural herbal and detox programmes.
Contra Indications – this works by boosting the Immune system that fine for most people but not for those with grafts whose immune system has to be kept suppressed.
Also and I do not know how important this is but I have seen firm warnings not to take Echinacea if you are also taking Golden Seal.
If this is a valid concern then you can simply switch from Echinacea to for example Sambucus or other anti-microbial herb.
Remember also that herbs are only part of a balanced and thorough approach to inflammation. It is useless to use anti-inflammatory herbs and eat an inflammatory diet, so your diet for at least the duration of the treatment has to be a plant based diet, either vegetarian or vegan.
Echinacea may be used either as a tea or a tincture or as tablets. You will get similar benefits whatever the form of the herb. In fact you can get Echinacea in 2 main forms called Echinacea Augustifolia and Echinacea Purpurea and they seem to be equally powerful The root has more therapeutic power than the flower so the tablets may be more useful than the tea.
PS: for more reading on the Inflammation and Cancer relationship go here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994795/
Image Credit audreyjm529