If I were to give up all my Western Herbs and go back to just using Chinese Herbs solely, Echinacea would be the only herb I would be at a loss with. I just can’t substitute an herb as effective as Echinacea for its cleansing power.
Yet, many people feel that Echinacea doesn’t work and others always ask me about Echinacea products that contain no other herbs. Unfortunately this herb may have fallen to commercialism, over hype, and a misunderstanding on what exactly it does.
First off, having a background in Chinese Herbology and using their diagnostic and formula theory, I don’t make single herb remedies. I use synergy and multiple herbs to perform a simple function. As many herbs have many properties, it is better to use multiple herbs to guide the formula to do specific actions for you. Echinacea is no different; it has a few actions and properties that make it the ‘King of Western Herbs.’
Echinacea is first and foremost an anti-inflammatory herb, and was first used that way by the Eclectics in the 1800s. This is what makes Echinacea great for boils, skin sores, blood cleanser, and venomous bites; all of which Echinacea is prescribed most for. The next great property of Echinacea is its antibiotic property that activates white blood cells, the body’s infection fighters. If it weren’t for Penicillin, Echinacea extracts may have been prescribed instead. Echinacea also activates T-cells in the body that rebuilds tissue and raises the body’s immune system. This is where the misunderstandings start. Echinacea loses its preventative effects after 10 days which shows Echinacea’s main property is to fight off acute problems: inflammation for example.
Yet still so many people relate Echinacea to colds and preventative measures. If taken at the immediate onset of a cold, hence an acute condition, Echinacea could be a wonderful ASSISTANT to herbs like Yarrow and Elder to get rid of the cold in a very quick manner. Echinacea’s 10 day effectiveness is not a new concept that you may have heard for the first time by me. Instead I still run into people that say they do the ‘Echinacea for 10 days, then off 1 month” cycle that im not even sure where was started. So education about its preventative weakness has drawn ‘loopholes’ instead of substitutions. This is ridiculous when a simple combination of Astragalus /Huang Qi with Reishi (just to name one) can be used on a daily basis! I would encourage a more complex formula, but that simple combo is a great example of using the correct herbs for the job. The point here is that Echinacea is not a tonic herb used for building.
I use Echinacea for two things and as part of a formula. Echinacea makes for great herb to use to cleanse and detox the blood. I recommend using Chaparral with Echinacea and then adding more blood cleansing herbs like: Poke Root and Yellow Dock. My next favorite usage of Echinacea is as a tincture combined with more antibiotic/anti-inflammatory herbs. This stores and carries nice and can be used for poisonous bites/stings both externally and internally. You may take this internally for inflammations, at the onset of a cold, and infections. Lastly this tincture can be used as an antibiotic for scratches, wounds; other skin infections (may always take it internally at the same time as externally for optimal results).
Echinacea is a valuable herb, to me the most valuable of all the western herbs. If you are new to using Echinacea, please take these suggestions to heart. Looking to give up on Echinacea? Give it a try but: please use as directed.