The cultural knowledge of herbs is not entirely lost. Tea drinkers seek warmth through sips to find a remedy for the onset of an ailment or to relax. Once upon a time, herbal lore was instinctual, just like the hand wanders into a cupboard to find oregano written on a glass bottle. The basic knowledge of medicinal plants may still be in our genes, urging to take root and blossom. You, too, can appreciate the versatile quality of herbs by first loving plants – the colors or fragrance. Take it one step farther! And, the gardener in you can make teas, salves, tinctures and poultices to promote good health!
Some flowers are simply eye-catching due to their brilliant coloring or height. Unlike the small daisy, the coneflower stands at almost four feet at maturity and possesses large single-petaled blooms that develop throughout the summer despite heat and drought. Perhaps without knowledge of echinacea’s magical gifts, you cut a few stalks to adorn the kitchen table. Similar to the Native American tribes who dipped their arrows in an infusion of echinacea in hopes of strengthening and follow-through, the flowers offer you a sense of purpose.
Harvest, Dry and Save Seeds
While the grocery aisle does not offer dried echinacea, harvesting either the seeds or leaves and flowers are a viable option. The process even takes little time.
- To encourage blooms, cut a stalk with a spent flower and enclose the head in a paper bag tied with a rubber band. Hang upside down. Seed separation takes a few weeks. Afterward, allow to dry in a cool place. Store in sealed Mason jar.
- In the second year of the coneflower, pluck only the leaves and petals to dry. After a few weeks, crumble into a glass jar with a screw-top lid to use for medicinal purposes.
In possessing a personal supply of dried echinacea, imagine having the ability to prevent illness and encourage wellness against viral and bacterial conditions, controlling blood sugars, infections, such as recurring vaginal yeast infections, inflammations, cuts and scrapes? Studies conclude taking echinacea can reduce the odds of developing a cold by 58 percent!
Baths: To engage in acts of self-pampering, consider spending a minimum of 10 minutes in a warm bath. The mind can surrender from daily stress and ease sore muscles to a state of tranquility. Consider trying a tea bath by steeping either loose leaves and flowers or bags for 10 minutes before pouring into the tub. Whether you are in pain, not feeling well or anxious, allow the herbs to penetrate through your pores to ease all worries.
Teas: Many herbal teas designed for sore throats and flu include the ingredient echinacea. The plant’s flowers contain antioxidants to help defend your cells against oxidative stress which is an ability to detoxify the body against harmful effects. To increase the effectiveness of the herb, herbalists recommend drinking the tea, especially for illness or infection, in cycles of five consecutive days with a two-day break.
Tinctures: The term sounds Old World; yet, pharmaceutical companies create “alcohol-free” medicines which use dry petals, leaves, bark, roots and berries from a plant. With the ability to harvest and dry, consider making a homemade jar using echinacea.
Pack tightly 2/3 of a screw-top glass jar with finely chopped fresh and mature leaves and petals from the spring season. Pour an 80-proof, grain alcohol three inches above the herb and insert a piece of parchment paper over the opening before adding the lid. Place in a warm, easily accessible location. Agitate daily across eight weeks. Ensure the alcohol level remains consistent; otherwise, add. Strain using cheesecloth. After a week, strain again until the liquid is particle-free! For acute illnesses, only consume a half-teaspoon every hour and decrease the dosage after the first 24 hours.
Salves: Disaster strikes in the form of a wound, sting, bite, rash or chapped lips! Now, you can make a healing salve!
Begin by packing a glass bottle with finely cut leaves and petals, and cover with sunflower oil. Allow the mixture to sit in the sun for four weeks; then, add to a double-boiler, one ounce of beeswax to four ounces of your newly infused echinacea, sunflower oil. Once melted, add two drops of lavender essential oil. Pour into wide mouth jars or tins!
After one season, you’ll be an herbal expert!
Next Month: The Dandelion