The Use and Misuse of Echinacea

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Echinacea is a pretty flower also known as the purple cone flower.  They are a beautiful plant and attract butterflies.  If growing in your garden, be warned that slugs like to eat them!  There are several species and some are medicinal herbs native to Eastern and Central North America.  It was originally used by Native American tribes and then widely used for many years by settlers to fight infection.  Once antibiotics was discovered, Echinacea loss its popularity.  However, for the past 20 or so years, it has slowly begun re-gaining popularity.  One reason is the growing concern about antibiotics. Not all antibiotics cure every strain of bacteria.  There is also a concern that overuse of antibiotics can expose patients to unnecessary side effects, as well as encourage the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of common bacteria and viruses.  In fact, the World Health Organization recently announced a ‘global health crises of increased antibiotic resistance.  (http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/increased-antibiotic-resistance-cause-for-concern-researchers)

Recent research shows the doctors have also been over-prescribing antibiotics when it was not needed for instance if the patient only had a cold.  However, I have noticed the same trend happening with the use of Echinacea.  When I first discovered Echinacea it wasn’t so widely known as it is now.  After the birth of my second child, I had a breast infection that would not go away on its own.  I went to the local health food store and picked up some Echinacea tincture.  If I remember correctly, I used about 20 drops in a glass of water 3-4 times a day.  Within a few days it was gone.  I since used this for other infections with success.  In recent years I started noticing Echinacea being sold as a cold remedy.  Just like antibiotics, it is now being misused and then people wonder why it didn’t get rid of their cold.

Echinacea works as an antibiotic against infections.  If you have a fever and some kind of pain chances are you have an infection.  Echinacea can usually cure an infection.  Colds on the other hand have to be just waited out.  You can take some things to help with symptoms but there is yet no cure.  Also, there are concerns that many Echinacea products are mislabeled and may not even contain Echinacea at all.  I advise to stick with a reputable brand of tincture from the health food store.  A member of staff should be able to advise you on which brands work.  Susun Weed who is a herbal guru says this about Echinacea dosage: When I use echinacea tincture, I use a lavish dose: 1 drop for every 2 pounds of body weight. A dropperful (which looks like half a dropperful) is about 25 drops of tincture. So I use a dropperful for children 25-50 pounds. Two dropperfuls for those weighing 50-100 pounds. Three dropperfuls for up to 150 pounds. Four for up to 200, and so on.


I take the full dose as often as every 1-2 hours in a crisis, or every 3-4 hours if I catch the infection at an early stage. And I expect to see relief within the first 24 hours. As I do, I space the doses further and further apart until all symptoms are gone. I don’t count the days or the weeks that I use echinacea. If the infection warrants it—as when my goose “Sweetheart” was attacked by a toothed being (dog? coyote? fox?) and had his armpit ripped out—I will use large doses for months on end until all signs of infection (redness, pain and tenderness, heat or fever) are gone.

As with all medicine, seek the advice of a professional before using. 

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6 thoughts on “The Use and Misuse of Echinacea

  1. Really great advice from Susun Weed! I grow echinacea and have tinctured it for home use. A powerful, and beautiful plant that I enjoy sharing with the bees and butterflies. Goldfinches love to come at summers end and eat the seeds, too.

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