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Elements of Echinacea

The power of Echinacea is more than just its robust color. Learn about this plants medicinal properties. Plus: Bonus recipes.


The purple coneflower has been treasured for centuries for more than just its colorful presentation. The Cheyenne, Dakota, Fox and early settlers all plucked this prairie flower when ailments affected their health, according to the USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center. They used the coneflower as a painkiller for toothaches, coughs, colds, soar throats, to dress burns, gastro-intestinal problems and even for snakebites. Echinacea angustifolia was and still is the most widely used species, although others also are used for medicinal purposes.

Common ailments believed to help:

Echinacea is commonly used to combat or prevent colds, flu and other infections. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it is believed to help fight infections by stimulating the immune system. It also is used to treat skin problems, such as wounds, acne and boils.

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Echinacea is sold in pill form along with some of the most common vitamins and herbal supplements. Gardeners can reap double rewards from growing this perennial through its beauty and believed health benefits. Although the above ground parts of the plants are used, the root is the most potent source. Here are some tips on harvesting those roots:

- According to the USDA NRCS, the roots can be harvested when the plants are dormant, or right when the leaves begin to turn brown.

- Wash roots and remove most for use.

- Divide crown to make five plantlets.

- Pre-plant remaining plantlets as soon as possible.

- Decide on what method to ingest or use this herb. Follow recipes below to use in tea.

Recipes: Make tea with Echinacea

Virus Fighter Tea

On-Line Stress Buster Tea