In a previous article, I expounded upon the virtues of Echinacea as a non-specific immune system booster as well as providing some information on where to find it growing naturally and how to identify it. I also mentioned that there are three different species of Echinacea consisting of the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), the Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida), and the Narrow-Leaved Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia); each of which is indigenous to different parts of the U.S. Therefore, in this article, I will concentrate on providing cultivation, preparation, and long term storage information for those of you who prefer to grow or forage for their own herbs and prepare their own homeopathic remedies.
Thus, it should first be noted that all three species of the Purple Cone Flower can be cultivated in gardens and flower beds provided that the appropriate species is chosen and the right conditions are provided for it. For instance, the Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea) is commonly found growing wild in the eastern half of the U.S. ranging from Michigan to Texas to the East Coast. Whereas, the Narrow-Leaved Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea angustifolia) is commonly found in the wild on open prairies from Texas to Nebraska and as far west as Colorado. Then, there is the Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) which is commonly found growing wild in both prairies and glades in the central part of the U.S. ranging from Oklahoma to Michigan. Consequently, Echinacea purpurea is a good choice for moderately wet climates while both Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida prefer drier climates.
In addition, although all three species will grow in poor soils, they prefer rich, well drained, soils and, although they can tolerate partial shade, they prefer plenty of direct sunlight with regular watering approximately twice a week. Once the plants have reached full maturity which is indicated by the fully formed flower heads which give this plant its name, they should be harvested by gently pulling them out of the ground with their tap roots still attached and then either spread out or hung up in the sun to dry. However, it should be noted that drying is not necessary for immediate consumption and thus, the green plant can be prepared as either a tisane or a tincture.
On the other hand, if you choose to dry the plant, then the entire plant can be crushed, chopped, and/or ground to the desired consistency. However, some herbalists believe that because the plant’s beneficial chemicals are contained within it cells, then the finer a plant is ground, the less potent it will be because of the greater number of broken plant cell walls. But, on the other hand, the finer the plant substance is ground, the more quickly the beneficial chemicals will be released within a solvent. Consequently, a common practice is to store the plant in its natural form for as long as possible and only crush or grind it immediately prior to preparation in a poultice, tisane, tincture, or extract.
However, many of us lack either the inclination or the time to prepare and individual dose of this amazing immune system booster on demand and thus, preparing it ahead of time is also a viable option. For instance, steeping a portion of the dried plant in boiling water for a given amount of time creates a tisane (aka “tea”) which can be bottled and stored for later use. In addition, by preparing a particularly strong tisane known as a tincture and then using an herbal essence evaporator to further reduce the consistency of the tincture to that of an oil, you can create a highly concentrated extract which can then be added to a solvent such as grain alcohol which tends to preserve the plant’s medicinal qualities. Or, you can simply visit the herbal supplement of your local Wal-Mart or grocery store where you will very likely find bottles of the dried form of this plant contained in individual gel caps for easy consumption.
But, regardless of whether you choose to grow and prepare this plant yourself or whether you prefer to purchase it from a local store, you should definitely keep this all natural miracle cure on hand for those occasions when your immune system needs a little boost to help it fight off those nasty internal infections. Plus, it also serves to replace topical antiseptics and antibiotics by marshaling your body’s internal defenses to fight any infections that result from scrapes, cuts, or burns for significantly faster healing times. So, make a little room in your medicine cabinet or flower bed this Spring for this amazing miracle cure.
PS: We cover preparation and storage of all kinds of food for preppers in this exclusive guide.