How to Grow Echinacea and Its Medicinal Properties
One of the most popular herbs in America, echinacea is an effective and widely used remedy for common cold and flu.
The name “Echinacea” was derived from the resemblance of the spikes on the central disc of the flower with “echinos”, the Greek for hedgehog.
Native Americans used echinacea as a general medicine for all diseases and infected wounds.
Records say that it was used against snake bites, diphtheria, anthrax, scarlet fever and as a general pain reliever.
Nowadays, it is used for the cure of sore throat and other symptoms of cold, and research shows promises to cure ear infections, athlete’s foot and sinusitis and even act as a suppressor of the herpes simplex virus.
The plant has 9 discovered species so far and they are commonly known as coneflowers.
Cultivation of Echinacea
Echinacea is perennial and are easy to grow from seeds. It is a very hardy plant, and can survive quite a cold winter. It grows well in the garden and the flowers are beautiful, giving your garden an aesthetic quality.
Early spring is a good time for cultivation.
- Echinacea prefers rich soil, so adding compost to your soil might be a smart idea. Also, make sure water does not flood your soil. A good drainage system is required and an elevated soil bed is a way to solve that problem.
- Seeds should be sown when the soil is around 60°F. Sowing on the surface of the soil, 2 inches apart, will do.
- When germination begins, push the seeds or add soil so that there is 1/8 inch soil over them.
- Thin out the plants so that they are around 20 inches apart. Once germinated, echinacea will grow fairly fast.
Tips on Growing Echinacea
- Rabbits and hedgehogs are fond of echinacea shoots, so make sure you have your garden protected well.
- See that they are watered as seeds but, after they grow, echinacea is capable of keeping itself watered from the moisture of the rain. So unless you live in a very dry region, there is no need to water the plant.
- Echinacea is not a very good competition for weeds, so if your garden has weeds, clear them up before echinacea suffers from lack of moisture.
Medicinal Uses of Echinacea
Echinacea has a large variety of medicinal uses – a fact that contributed heavily to its common and frequent use as a general, all-purpose medicine in the past. Extensive research of the plant is being conducted in Germany and even now scientists have found plenty of uses for this wonderful herb.
Immunity – Echinacea is known to be a good immunity boost. Though there are some debates about it, it can heavily improve our immune system and fight infections.
Cold – This is probably the most common medicinal use of echinacea. It is not yet confirmed if it works as a good cure or prevention, but the fact is, it has been shown by many to be very effective at giving your immune system a boost during cold and flu periods. Sore throats and other symptoms are not much of a challenge for echinacea.
Infections – It is good for infections in the upper respiratory system. Traction or inflammation of these organs can be helped by echinacea.
Wounds – If used early enough, echinacea is often effective and helping the healing of wounds.
Skin – Boils, acne and skin infections are often treated with echinacea.
Miscellaneous – It is also used for urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infection, flu, gum disease, tonsillitis, genital herpes and more.