Looking back through the century’s medicinal herbs and herbal remedies have been an intricate part of our life. Whether it was gathering herbs from the garden or going into the forest to gather healing plants. You may think,
“I don’t use herbs, as I don’t believe in them”. If you are taking pharmaceuticals, you may be surprised to learn that in today’s pharmaceuticals, herbs are still be used. Up to 30% of today’s prescription drugs, which are distributed in the United States, contain at least one active ingredient derived from plant material.
Herbalist have studied for years the properties of herbs, when to use specific herbs, the best manner in which the herbs are to be used. Not the least important is what are the most beneficial combinations for the specific herbs. Combinations have countless advantages over a single herb. Here is a simple example of this. The common cold, the symptoms are runny nose, headache, possible upset stomach, insomnia, and cough. At this point a friend will say take Echinacea, or if they are a bit more informed they will give the advice of Echinacea and Vitamin C. Echinacea is a great herb. The research is showing great results with the immune system, effective as an antiviral, antifungal, and even gingivitis.
Here is the issue though, when is Echinacea to be used? Echinacea is commonly to be used as a preventive, NOT after the health issue has happened. (There are always excepts to the rule.) Once again the common cold, take Echinacea before the season is in full bloom. Or take Echinacea within the first couple of days. Only take it for a maximum of 8 weeks. Studies have shown that taking Echinacea more than 10 week will reduce the effectiveness of the herbal properties. If taking Echinacea once the cold has been with you longer than 3 or 4 days, it will have little benefit.
What about the question which species of Echinacea is beneficial to my health? Echinacea Purpurea or Echinacea Angustifolia, and should it be herb, root, flower, or a combination of all?
Search for Echinacea purpurea, as this is the herbal remedy which the native American use. The native American remedy called for the leaves and flowers of the Echinacea purpurea to be used.
According to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center:
“Echinacea contains several chemicals that play a role in its therapeutic effects. These include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids
Echinacea usually does not cause side effects when taken orally. In rare cases, some people experience allergic reactions, including rashes, increased asthma, and anaphylaxis. In clinical trials, gastrointestinal side effects were most common.
People are more likely to experience allergic reactions to echinacea if they are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies. People with asthma or atopy may be more likely to have an allergic reaction when taking echinacea.
An auto-immune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, you should not take echinacea at all, since it can aggravate the self-directed immune tissue damage.
Sorry, got a bit off track. Combinations of herbs for Echinacea may encompass several herbs, Echinacea pairs well with:
Goldenseal, Elderberry, Cat’s Claw, Astragalus, Olive Leaf, Reishi Mushroom, Oregon Grape, Garlic Clove, Pau D Arco, Cayenne, and Honeysuckle.
When using combinations of herbs correctly they become more advantageous than if they were a single herb. Let me tell you my secret: I think of herb combinations as the Justice League Characters – Teamwork. Very rarely will I take a single herb, or drink a single ingredient tea. To insure I don’t end up with a cold, I will start taking a combination of Echinacea, Reishi Mushroom and Cayenne pepper right around Halloween. If traveling is involved over the holidays I will add a bit of Isatis leaf just for a bit of added insurance. Taking this combination would be ridiculous to take during the summer. If I am going to get a cold it will be during the holidays when things are hectic and the change of food and water.
In summary utilize the proper plant species, the correct plant part (such as root, leave, twig, flower, seed, pollen, or whole plant), and use the herb when it will be beneficial to your physical health.