Echinacea, otherwise known as Purple Cone Flower, has been used since olden days to boost immunity to colds, flu, and respiratory infections. Many experts consider Echinacea a natural antibiotic because it suppresses virus activity. It contains vitamins A, C, and E plus flavonoids, iodine, potassium, iron, and copper. The flower, leaf, seeds and roots are used in many herbal tea blends. Here are four ways to utilize this wonderfully healing plant.
FLOWER & LEAF TEA
Pick leaves during the flowering cycle and harvest flowers as buds begin to open. Brew a single bud and leaf in hot water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired.
CONE SEED TEA
Cone seeds have been used by the Seux Indians for generations. They first discovered this plant's medicinal properties by observing beneficial results of wounded and sickly elk after consuming it. This healing remedy has been passed down through families ever since. Interestingly enough, they did not use seeds as a daily supplement but used them to boost immunity at the onset of illness.
With a pestle and mortar, smash and open the cone seeds. Place 2 teaspoons of crushed seed in a tea ball. Add 1 cup of boiling water. Cover to retain oils and steep for 10 minutes.
Drink tea at the first signs of illness and repeat every three hours for three days.
While the whole plant has medicinal properties, many herbalists believe the root is the most valuable source of nutrients. Dig second year (or older) roots after the plant has died back in late fall or early spring. Wash roots and dry them completely for storage.
Simmer four tablespoons of dried roots for 15 to 30 minutes in one quart of water then strain. Drink 2 cups per day. Sweeten with honey if desired. This infusion will retain its medicinal properties for two days in the refrigerator.
Note: Echinacea is most effective when taken at the onset of cold and flu symptoms to boost immunity. Echinacea may lose its healing benefits if taken longer than eight weeks.
Slice off a chunk of Echinacea bark and chew. Swallow the juice and spit out the root, it's that simple. Wild Echinacea roots, according to many herbalists, have stronger healing benefits than garden plants. It is best consumed within six days of the digging.
Stay well and healthy,