The herb Echinacea purpurea is one of the best known and widely available herbal cold treatments. Study results are mixed, but its effectiveness may vary depending on the preparation. Two studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found no benefit from echinacea in a juice formulation or in an unrefined combination of root and herb. However, David Leopold, MD, recommends mixing 15 to 20 drops of an echinacea tincture with warm water four or five times a day (or as directed on the bottle).
Echinacea is an herb that is well-known for stimulating the immune system and helping the body to resist illness. Echinacea is most effective when taken at the first sign of a cold or flu, before becoming ill. Goldenseal is known to enhance the benefits of Echinacea when the two herbs are used in combination. Echinacea is most effective when used in the form of tea or tincture. Echinacea is not a pleasant tasting herb making echinacea tincture very useful to have on hand.
How to Make Echinacea Herbal Tincture: Recipe and Uses
Chop 1/2 cup of fresh echinacea herb in a coffee grinder, food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Place the echinacea in a glass mason jar that is sterile. Cover the herb with 1 cup of vodka or apple cider vinegar.
Chop 1/4 cup dried echinacea herb in a coffee grinder, food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Place the echinacea in a glass mason jar that is sterile. Cover the echinacea with 3/4 cup of vodka or apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup of water.
Seal the mason jar with a tight fitting sterile lid. Shake the mixture and store for 2 weeks, shaking it daily.
After two weeks has passed, strain the echinacea from the tincture. Discard the spent herb and pour the tincture into dark colored glass bottles with a dropper. Label the bottles "echinacea tincture." Record the date of preparation on the bottle. Echinacea tincture will last several years if stored properly in a dark, cool area.
To Use Echinacea Tincture:
An adult dose is 2 ml up to 5 times per day.
For a child's dose divide the childs weight by 150. A 50 pound child would take 1/3 the adult dose 50/150=1/3
Are herbal remedies safe?
The good news is that, in general, most of these compounds won't hurt you, says Dr. Campbell (although it can't hurt to check with your doctor).
And there may be another upside to herbal supplements. "I believe that most of the over-the-counter products just mask symptoms, which is great to get you through the day," Dr. Leopold says. "But a lot of the oral supplements are working more with the body, maybe stimulating the immune system and also helping the body to heal."
"I don't recommend that any of my patients take any of this stuff every day, but as soon as they have a little runny nose and a scratchy throat, they should hit it hard," he adds. "Err on the side of caution."