You may already love Coneflowers for their impressive tolerance of high heat, humidity, drought and other environmental stresses, but those aren’t the only tricks this perennial has up its sleeve. Did you know that the root of Echinacea angustifolia was originally used to treat toothache, tonsillitis, and pain in the bowels? The story goes that Native Americans discovered the healing powers of this flower when they noticed that sick Elk would seek out and eat the plant. Ever since then, Echinacea has been a popular natural remedy in America, revered for its immune-boosting effect. It has been used to treat everything from the common cold all the way up to rattlesnake bites!
Scientific analysis of Echinacea has found that the fat-soluble alkylamides in the plant have an immunomodulatory effect, increasing our immune system’s ability to fight antigens. The chemical basis for this is complex, and the exact chain of cause-and-effect has not been determined yet, but the prevailing wisdom is that Echinacea can temporarily boost your immune system, which makes it a great thing to take when you first feel a tickle in your throat, or when someone in your household comes down with a cold. I personally wouldn’t rely on Echinacea to save me from a snake bite, but I have found it effective so far at keeping the cold and flu at bay.
The potent medicinal value of this timeless perennial is one of many reasons that back in 2014 the National Garden Bureau named it the “Year of the Echinacea”!