A few years ago I would have laughed at the notion of taking Echinacea in lieu of traditional cold medicine, but I’ve opened my eyes to more natural approaches to life in the last two years. Let me tell you, it’s fairly difficult to forgo the man-made medicines for natural alternatives. From childhood, it’s deeply engrained that we need cough drops, Tylenol, and Buckley’s… but we don’t! Echinacea made me a believer!
Echinacea is a flower from the Daisy family, the most popular species being the Echinacea Angustifolia, or Purple Coneflower–with purple petals and a dark black/orange center. Not only is this flower beautiful in your garden, it’s a powerful immune booster!
What part to use
The key immune boosting component is in the petals (or the entire above ground portion). However, using both the roots and the petals together will provide the most effective results. This is due to the different organic chemicals found in each part of the plant. The above-ground portion contains more polysaccharides, which trigger activity in the immune system, and the roots contain volatile oils; the oils of the Echinacea pallida is known to treat flu-like infections.
How to use
So, you have the plant and you feel a cold coming on, now what?
First of all, it’s important to get Echinacea in your system as soon as you feel that first tickle. Boosting your immune system early, before it’s fighting this cold with all it’s might, is your best chance to beat down the cold before it’s a nuisance. Personally, since taking Echinacea at the first sign, I haven’t had a full-fledged cold in over a year.
There are also several ways to get it into your system.
- Echinacea tea will help ease the tickle in your throat: simply put chopped Echinacea in a tea steeper and brew like you normally would. Adding honey will sweeten it, and bonus: honey is a crazy good immune booster!
- Create an Echinacea Tincture. I found a great recipe for this over at A Delightful Home. The only downside to this is that the recipe needs to sit for four to six weeks. Simply be sure to make it ahead of time, and make enough. It can last indefinitely if made properly
- Echinacea supplements: I started by buying a bottle these supplements (in pill form). The best part of this is the ease of access; there’s literally no prep time. The only downside is that you’re never quite sure how old it is or what’s in it.
Honestly–with how beautiful this flower is and it’s effectiveness in fighting colds–I’m embarrassed that I ever doubted this natural alternative to cough medicine. I’ve always had a horrible immune system, but lately it’s been amazing, and I have this Purple Coneflower to thank!