Also known as Cone Flower, Echinacea is native to the plains of North America and has long been used to support the immune system. Echinacea is readily available in herb shops and natural food stores. But, there are a few really important factors that lead me to recommend Echinacea as one of those herbs you grow yourself rather than buy.
Hundreds of years ago, before Echinacea became a staple of western herbalism, the root was used exclusively by people living in it’s native habitat of North America. As Echinacea gained in popularity and as the entire plant must be dug up to be harvested, it has been increasingly over harvested and is now rare in the prairies where it once grew abundantly.
By planting and growing Echinacea in one’s own garden for medicine, we are lessening the pressure on dwindling wild populations of this plant. Another reason to grow your own is because the immune system supporting medicine of Echinacea is concentrated in the root after 2.5 to 3 years. When buying in the store there is no guarantee that the root was harvested sustainably or in it’s proper timing.
Making Medicine with Echinacea
Three springs ago I planted Echinacea seeds which bloomed into flowers each successive summer. Fall is the perfect time to harvest the roots because it is the season when roots hold their most potent medicine. For an immunity tincture I use fresh echinacea roots and leaves and dried (or fresh if possible) orange peels although you can certainly use the root alone.
During the three days surrounding the full moon I like to prepare all kinds of medicinals – marmalade and teas and this immunity supporting tea with Echinacea roots & leaves and orange peel harvested in winter. In order to charge the tincture with the healing vibes of this most recent full moon, I left the jar (sealed with a lid) outside in the garden to soak up the rays of the full moon. The following day I brought the jar inside into a dark shelf until the following full moon.
Following a lunar cycle is helpful because tinctures should soak in the herbs for about a month but you don’t need to start and end on the full moon. After a month has passed, separate the herbs from the alcohol and store the now finished tincture in a clean jar or bottle directly to store in your home apothecary. Don’t forget to label everything with the name of the herb, type of alcohol and date before putting everything away.