Monday, September 17, 2012

Health Benefits of Echinacea

Many of you know that I own and operate an Heirloom Seed company called Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  After several year of research on topics such as health (pretty broad), nutrition, organic vs. conventional, organic gardening...AND much more...I realize there is so much more to learn!  The more I learned, the more I wanted to grow my own garden.  The more I read about gardening and seeds it became apparent to me that the only way to grow was using heirloom seeds.  Read more HERE.
Baby Thyme in Peat Pellets
I am no expert but I've picked up quite a bit of information on the health benefits of herbs.  Much of what is listed below comes from several amazing website that have helped me personally. I've decided to start with the seed varieties available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds because I have done the most research on those herbs.  Enjoy!


Echinacea Purpurea
The most commonly used (commercially) species of echinacea are E. Purpurea, E. Angustiflolia and E. Pallida.  I'm going to tell you about Echinacea Purpurea.  For more info, check out The Herb Companion.

About Echinacea
According to The Herb Companion,
"E. purpurea, a favorite garden perennial with its brilliant late-summer display of large purple daisies on 3- to 4-foot stalks, was introduced into En­glish gardens as early as 1699 and has been under cultivation ever since. Unlike the other echinaceas, this species has a fibrous root instead of a taproot. The leaves are oval, tapering to a sharp point, with irregular teeth. It is the most widespread species of echinacea in North America, although not the most abundant, occurring in moist soils in woods, at edges of thickets and prairies, and near springs, often as a solitary plant or in small populations."

Also from Herb Comanion, "No single chemical has been found responsible for echinacea’s ability to stimulate the immune system; in fact, whole-plant extracts seem to be more effective than those containing an isolated compound. Certain polysaccharides, flavonoids, ­essential oils, caffeic acid derivatives, isobutylamides, and ­cichoric acid all may play a role in producing echinacea’s effects."

From Health Guidance, "It is also commonly used as a laxative. It is also commonly thought of as a treatment for the common cold, though it is believed that this came about through a misunderstanding – some Native Americans used it to treat symptoms of the common cold rather than to treat the colds themselves.
 One potential active substance is the compound 'phenols' which are also common in many other plants. Phenols have many anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting qualities and it is phenols that are believed to make olive oil such a beneficial thing to consume, however they may also be related to endocrine-disruptive chemicals; in other words they may actually have some negative effects. Meanwhile Echinacea also contains polysaccharides which can improve mood via the production of feel good hormones as well as helping to improve cardiovascular health and crucially immunity."

-Immune Booster
-Mild Laxative
-Mood Enhancer
-Cardiovascular Support

As with any herb, there may be potential side effects or drug interaction.  With that in mind, it is important to do your own research to find out what id best for you.  The is not intended to be medical advise or a "cure."
Now that we have that pesky disclaimer out of the way, on to Growing your own!

The planting instructions on each seed pack reads:

Seeds can be sown in cool or warm conditions, covered very lightly (depth of ½ inch) and kept reasonably moist until seedlings emerge. Echinacea, also known as coneflowers, enjoy a sunny location with fertile soil with good drainage. If your soil isn't particularly fertile, work in a little compost.

How about a bit more info!  From Garden Guides,

"Plant echinacea seeds in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, and when you still expect another frost or two. Sow the seeds 1/4" deep and 2" apart. When the seedlings are an inch tall, thin to 18" apart. Rabbits and hedgehogs think new echinacea shoots are a tasty treat, so protect your seedlings if these animals are known to visit your garden.

Alternatively, you can plant your seeds about 2 months before your first fall frost. This gives the plants enough time to become established, and although they won't come to bloom the first year when you plant them this late, they will give you a much better bloom period next year.

Regular weeding is a must because echinacea doesn't compete well with weeds, but other that that, plants require very little care. Expect blooms from June to October in most areas. Echinacea will be one of the last plants in your garden to go dormant."

I hope you enjoyed all of this information I have gathered.  I'll share more herbs with you over the next few days and weeks.  If you have an herb you are interested in please feel free to let me know.  I'm in the middle of a SUPER Seed sale at Mary's Heirloom Seeds so please bear with me!

Happy Herbing!


Becca said...

It's so cool to discover all the health benefits God gave us in the nature He created!

Thanks for linking up at A Humble Bumble :)

Meagn said...

I love echinacea. I have never thought about growing it before- what a great idea!

Anonymous said...

Glad to find your blog. I am a new follower from Blog Hop Social. Come visit and like me back. Have a wonderful evening.

Mamal Diane said...

Thanks so much for all the great information and for sharing at The Gathering Spot this week! Have a wonderful day!

Betsy Pool said...

This is great information!! Thanks for linking up at Take it on Tuesday!!

amanda said...

I love Echinacea! We use it a lot and it is going in my garden this spring!I would love it if you would share this post on my new blog hop Natural Living Monday. I know my readers would too!

Becky Elmuccio said...

Thanks for sharing this info! I can't wait to check out your seeds for our garden next year. Thanks for stopping by for Tuesday Greens!

JoAnn SweetPepperRose said...

A beautiful flower and good for you too, I'll take both please ;-)
Thanks for sharing.

Christine said...

WOW!! A bunch of great information!

Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!

amanda said...

We use echinacia a lot during this time of year! I have not had great success growing it from seed though. My plant is growing REALLY slowly.

Thanks so much for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

Jessi @ Practically Functional said...

Very cool, and what a pretty flower too! Thanks for sharing at The Fun In Functional!

Nicole said...

Thanks for more great information! Echinacea is such a beautiful flower. Thanks for stopping by at Show Off Friday!

Unknown said...

Good to know! I need to start taking more herbs. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

Trish - Mom On Timeout said...

So many benefits! Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout! said...

Thanks for joining the party at One Creative Weekend! I hope to see you back today.