Echinacea or purple coneflower, was used as a medicinal remedy by American Indians more than almost any other plant in the plains states for a variety of ailments. And this powerful herb can be easily grown by you in your own herb garden!
Echinacea seeds should be planted indoors 8-10 weeks before planting outside. Outdoors, plant in early spring or early autumn at a depth of 1/8-inch. Seed germination takes 10-21 days, requiring darkness and a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees.
Echinacea is easy to care for; just water regularly and do not disturb the plant once established. It is susceptible to powdery mildew, but you can avoid this by regular watering during dry spells. In late autumn, cut the flowering stems to the ground.
The uses of Echinacea, for those who lived 100 years ago, have included treatment for bites of snakes and poisonous insects; applying its juice to bathe burns and mix with water to sprinkle on coals during traditional, purification “sweats.” It is effective in facilitating the wound-healing process.
Today, Echinacea is still considered a good antibiotic. It has been found effective in treating tonsillitis, and can ease pain when used externally to treat wounds or ulcers.
Echinacea has a downside for those who have an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis. The property which stimulates white bloods cell production also sends the immune system into high gear, something those with similar diseases do not want. Check with your health care professional before using Echinacea.