Echinacea has been the subject of extensive research for many decades. Lauded for many years as the go to cold and flu prevention plant, comprehensive research has confirmed that “Echinacea raises the body’s natural resistance to infection by stimulating and aiding immune function. It works, in part, by increasing macrophage and T-cell activity, the body’s first line of defense against foreign antigens.” -Rosemary Gladstar
As critical concerns of immune issues worldwide grow and irresponsible over-harvesting continues, ethical management of Echinacea and wild-crafting of its constituent parts must be taken into consideration when working with this powerful plant. I grow both medicinal varieties in my garden: Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea. I harvest the aerial parts (flower, leaf and seed) of E. purpurea and will soon harvest the root of my small E. angustifolia. When I need more root than I have, I look online for ethical sources.
Echinacea is not only a strong medicinal, but the plant provides tons of fun for our whole family. Many days during the hot summer months, you can see the entire Coyan family participating in one of our favourite pastimes: bee petting. Bees, especially big, fat, fluffy bumblebees, are positively drunk on Echinacea. They are so overtaken by the intoxicating nature of the flower that it is possible to leisurely pet the bees as they feast on the nectar. This and looking at clouds top my list of Greatest Ever Things To Do.
This tincture should be taken at the first sign of cold or flu, taken often and in small doses at the onset for it to be effective at warding off the illness, or a couple of times a day if you are in close proximity to others who are sick.
Grind or chop the plant material as finely as possible. I use my juicer to grind the dried plant material.
Add the plant material to the jar: Dried- fill 1/2 of jar
Fresh- fill the entire jar
Add the alcohol. Fill to the brim. Keep an eye on it for the next several minutes and keep adding alcohol until all the plant material is covered.
Seal well and label with the plant name, date, percent and type of alcohol and the date 6 weeks out.
Shake the jar daily and store in a cool, dark place.
After 6 weeks, strain out plant material and decant the tincture into sterilised bottles for use.
Label bottles with the tincture name.
I prefer to make a tincture from the whole plant, thus I combine the root and aerial parts tinctures. This allows for the overall effectiveness of the tincture to be increased simply because different parts of the plant have differing strengths of similar properties.
Echinacea is an immunostimulant, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. It has an affinity for bronchial and respiratory infections as well as throat and overall oral infections. It has a full complement of polysaccharides, which help protect cells against invasion by viruses and bacteria. Other key constituents are: sesquiterpenes, linoleic acid, tannins, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
Echinacea grows in a few patches in our yard, and I love the flower for its beautiful looks. I have bought the tincture at the health food store, but have never made it myself. I would have to get my act together and prepare a tincture in the summer, when thoughts of respiratory illness are usually far away…
Do you have any Echinacea blooms left with the seeds? The heads should look black. Harvest those heads, cut them open and pour the seeds in a jar. Cover over them with alcohol and you are on your way to a homemade Echinacea tincture! Grab any green leaves that are left and chop those up in there, too.
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