Be Well

Echinacea & Friends to the Rescue!

By Carolyn Kelly, Founder of Herbal Energetics & InJoy Organics

Brought to you by the January edition of the Natural Buzz monthly newsletter.

How very fortunate we are to have Nature’s pharmacy available to us! What a relief not to have to rely on vaccines to do the job! One of the first herbs people think about, especially for colds is Echinacea. Many people wisely grow it in their gardens. This “purple cone flower” adds a lovely pink splash of color and has a strong presence. The leaves, flowers and roots have all been used for many types of infections by native peoples in this country for at least 400 years. Little do people know that this one herb actually does so many things! Yes it is great for viral colds, especially when taken right away and often. Now read on to find its other amazing functions! It boosts immunity so can be taken to help prevent an infection. (For instance if a cold is “going around” taking it to help prevent getting that germ is a good idea). It shortens the duration of colds as well. It can be used for enlarged lymph glands, bloodstream infections, streptococcus, vaginal yeast infections, and genital herpes. It helps alleviate pain of headaches, sore throats, stomach aches, bug bites, even toothaches and more. As a mild laxative, it helps relieve constipation. It is an anti-inflammatory herb and can be used for chronic inflammations in and on the body. For instance, the tea can be taken for help with rheumatoid arthritis and urinary tract infections as well as externally for soothing irritated skin. It also aids slow healing wounds. It even has been used for brain cancer patients. It is useful for chronic fatigue syndrome and also has a calming effect, even being effective for anxiety and depression especially related to ADD/ADHD.
Now with all those properties why would you need to add another herb? Herbs, like foods work together and increase each others effectiveness. Like I often say “you wouldn’t only eat carrots, no matter how good they are for you!” We all like and need variety and so do our bodies. Also people are individuals and have different reactions and needs thus respond to each herb in their own unique ways. So lets review some other herbs to add to the infection arena. Osha has a specific affinity for the head, throat and lungs, especially helpful for mucus congestion and digestive irritation. It works well for stubborn conditions that linger and don’t peak properly. Lomatium was used by Native Americans and pioneers for lung diseases, fever, flu epidemics, saving many lives in years past. It has been found to combat most every microbe tested, including viruses, bacteria and fungus without negative side effects. It shortens the duration of infections and limits the spread. It is specific for difficult infections including respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, etc. Olive Leaf enhances immunity, boosts energy levels, and provides antioxidant properties. It helps promote a normal balance of healthy bacteria, in the gut, kills parasites and lowers blood pressure! It is useful for viruses, including Epstein-Barr Syndrome, herpes, glandular fevers, and shingles. It also addresses fungus and bacteria and can be part of a Candida treatment. Andrographis, referred to as Indian Echinacea, is popular in both Ayervedic and Chinese herbology for colds, flues, sinusitis, and upper respiratory tract infections. Relatively new to the US, this is an extremely effective herb that stimulates general immunity, activating general defense immune functions. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, aids digestion, and has anti-tumor properties. Next is Elderberry, a most useful herb for counteracting flu symptoms, including stomach distress. It has been used in Europe for 100’s of years..It also soothes sore throats and coughs and relieves catarrh and chills. It is high in vitamins A and C. And then there is Golden Seal. This herb is in a class all by itself. It is strong medicine and needs to be taken more cautiously than the others listed here. I prefer to take it in a capsule for most effectiveness. That is generally not true for the other herbs listed because they lose their integrity more quickly. The alcohol in tinctures preserves them more effectively. Golden Seal is a virtual pharmacopeia having a broad spectrum of effects. It is an endangered herb and thus herbalists tend to reserve it for more serious conditions. It really isn’t needed for the common cold, but can be a great benefit for lingering infections. It is usually only taken once a day whereas the other herbs can be taken often throughout the day. Health conditions responding to it include deep infections of all kinds including, ulcers, urinary tract, respiratory, vaginal, digestive, skin and eye infections. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood glucose lowering as well.
These are some of the favorites here at Herbal Energetics. They have stood the test of time around the world, really. There are many others with their own special properties that can be used as needed like Usnea and Boneset. And then there are the culinary herbs like Thyme and Garlic which can easily be used in food with great results. And don’t forget citrus fruits like oranges and lemons for added vitamin C. There are also many “helper” herbs that are used in formulas to enhance effects. For instance ginger is added to many combinations for its warming, soothing and anti-inflammatory effects and licorice for its harmonizing and anti-infection effects. Perhaps another article could more deeply explain these important helpers and how and why they are used. Herbal Energetics uses Flower Essences and Essential Oils in formulas as well. In the mean time plan to plant some herbs in your garden in the spring and collect leaves and flowers to dry and use. Here’s to a healthy winter! Lets give great Thanks to our Herb Friends!!
Carolyn is a local vendor, with an herbal cottage industry in her NH home. She has been with the Co-op for years supplying many popular herbal formulas. Carolyn also does individual consultations for those with more specific needs. Visit or call 603-286-4696.