Echinacea as Preventative Care for Common Cold

Member Spotlight: This is a guest blog with GrowIt! member Charles Fuller. Charles is the father of 5 daughters. He grows herbs, vegetables, and flowers on his property in Mississippi. Check them all out by following (tap from mobile) Charles on GrowIt!.
Echinacea as preventative care

I grow Echinacea and harvest it for medicinal tea. I utilize it as preventative care for the common cold.

Echinacea was widely used by the North American Plains Indians for its many varied medicinal qualities. The Kiowas used it for coughs and sore throats, the Cheyenne used it for sore throats, the Pawnee used it for headaches, and the Lakota used it for pain medication. Its modern use for the common cold only began when a Swiss herbal supplement maker was incorrectly told that Echinacea was used for cold prevention by the North American Plains Indians who lived in the area of South Dakota.

A well-known herb, Echinacea works by inhibiting the hydrolysis enzyme, confining the bacteria. Echinacea starves and chokes bacteria to extinction, mobilizing the body’s natural defenses for protection and healing.

Echinacea is easy to grow. I started mine indoors four to six weeks before the last frost. Once past the freeze date, find a nice sunny spot outside, fertilize once every two weeks with high amounts of nitrogen. Mine is fertilized with fermented chicken manure with a little goat and donkey manure to give it that extra kick.

It takes two years of growth before any parts of the plant become mature in strength, so you don’t want to dig the roots for at least several years or until you have backup plants coming into maturity to replace those that you pull.

When you’re ready to harvest, start by cutting leaves from the top third of the plant just as the flowers begin to open. Dehydrate the leaves and flowers. Then crush the petals and leaves. Use gloves when taking the seed head apart — it will be sticky.

To prepare the tea, pack a tall, heat-resistant glass (plastic or glass) with Echinacea. Pour boiling water over the material carefully packing down the material until water covers the Echinacea. Cover with a saucer and let sit for 24 hrs. Drain and filter the liquid. The product is concentrated Echinacea. Experiment at half strength and adjust according to personal needs. I fill a coffee cup half full, top with water, reheat in the microwave, and sweeten with a little sugar.

Enjoy the beauty of nature’s little miracle, Echinacea.