I absolutely adore this time of year in the garden. One of my favorite blooms at the moment is Echinacea purpurea. Did you know that the name echinacea comes from the Greek word for Hedgehog? Echinacea's beautiful flower head is conical and covered in tiny tubular florets that very much resemble the spikes on a little porcupine.
While she has grown accustomed to popping up throughout our gardens, she is actually native to the American prairies where she has been used by the indigenous populations for centuries.
Her claim to fame in Western medicine has been her powerful immunostimulant properties. The Eclectics of the late 19th century turned to her for everything from mastitis to syphilis!
Nowadays she is the herbalist's go to for acute immume support during cold and flu season since she has a special affinity for the upper respiratory system.
It is best taken as a preventative for when you first start to feel a cold coming on and then continued until you are feeling well.
Echinacea tincture is usually used in dosages ranging from 3 to 5 ml per day while infusions made from the aerial parts are made using up to 6 grams of herb per day.
She can also be used topically to help fight skin infections and has been shown in clinical trials to be effective against herpes simplex virus.
She is a powerful plant medicine, but also extremely gentle. She is considered safe to use for short-term immune support during pregnancy and lactation but should be avoided if you have an allergy to plants in the daisy family.
The entire plant from seeds to root is medicinal. Traditionally the seeds and the roots from three-year-old plants are tinctured while the aerial parts are used in infusions.
Echinacea does well in both pots and in the ground, making her a wonderful addition to your garden and your medicine cabinet!