How To Make Echinacea Tincture

ALi and me chopping herbsLet me introduce Ali Sutherland – Medical Herbalist, and my lovely friend. Many of you will have met her here already at a workshop or on a weed walk.

We harvested my Echinacea together recently, and today Ali’s teaching us how to turn it into a tincture and how to use it safely. This tincture has kept my family strong and well – I swear by it!

And it’s easy guys – if you’re growing Echinacea purpurea, now’s the time – give it a go.


echinacea11Echinacea is native to North America. There are nine species of Echinacea, three are used medicinally – Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida. The Plains Indians had more medicinal uses for it than any other plant.

Echinacea pupurea is the most commonly grown variety in the home garden and the whole of the plant is used when it is beautifully in bloom.

The Medicine

Echinacea is a prime herb for treating infections of all types and boosting the immune system. It stimulates the body’s immune defense mechanisms via direct anti-microbial action.

The most common use for Echinacea is to prevent and treat the common cold. When used at high frequency during a cold it can reduce symptoms and duration quite remarkably. Those who are prone to recurring infections of the respiratory tract such as sinusitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis and ear infections, benefit from a preventative daily dose leading into the winter season when these infections most commonly occur. The same preventative approach should be used for those who suffer hay fever and seasonal allergies. Start a daily dose 6 weeks prior to allergy season.

Topically it is used (diluted) to treat a wide variety of skin disorders, such as impetigo, boils, abscesses, burns, herpes infections, athletes foot, eczema, bites and stings, thrush, skin ulcers and infected wounds

The Tincture

Making a tincture is a good way of extracting the goodies out of the plant, and preserving them for several years. It’s a must have in the home health kit and all the better to have come from your own garden.

Harvest

harvesting echinaceaHarvest on a dry day. A plant should be 2 years plus and have formed a good sized clump that is dividable. You can do this by making a division line at the base of the plant with your fingers then put a sharp spade right through. Take the portion of the plant you are using out, a little fork action may be needed to encourage it. Shake off as much dirt as possible. Collect any roots that have come away during removal for use and make sure the remaining plant is bedded back in nicely. Don’t forget your please and thank-you’s.

Prepare

tincture prepsGently rinse off any dirt remaining on roots, and let the fun begin!

You need a comfy seat, good company, someone willing to help chop, a large bowl, clean secateurs or kitchen scissors, a large clean jar with air tight lid, some good quality vodka with the highest alcohol % you can find.

Process

chopped echinacea

Chop the roots, stalks, leaves and flowers as finely as possible into the bowl. Any old brown or damaged bits should be discarded into the compost. Don’t leave the plant to sit around after harvest, as it dries it goes very hard – chopping needs to follow harvest!

Place chopped plant into the jar and pour over alcohol until just covered. Give the jar a gentle shake to mix alcohol through then use wooden chopstick or similar to press the plant matter under the alcohol. Secure lid on tightly, label with date and put jar out of direct light. Check on your brew every couple of days for the first few weeks, giving it a gentle mix, making sure plant matter remains covered. You may need to top up with more alcohol in the first few days. Leave to brew for a minimum of 6 weeks.

tincture

Bottle

Strain into glass jug or bowl through muslin cloth inside a funnel and press out as much liquid as possible or use a fruit press if you have one. Pour strained tincture into clean brown glass bottles and label. Store in cool dark place. Keeps for 2-3 years.

Dosage

Acute infection
Adult: 5ml in a little water, every 2 hours on day 1 then reduce to 4 to 5 times daily until improvement is notable then reduce to 3 times daily until fully well.

Child: 1-3.5ml in water or juice, frequency as above.

Chronic (ongoing) or Preventative
Adult: 5ml, 1 to 2 times daily

Child:1-3.5ml, 1 to 2 times daily

A tingle on the tongue after taking is a sign of good potency. If you experience excessive tingling or watering of mouth, reduce the amount by half next dose. If this is okay, increase by 1ml next dose until you find your happy place.

Precautions

  • People with auto-immune conditions should not use Echinacea. If on immuno-suppressive medication it should only be used short term. People with AIDS should not use Echinacea.
  • Those who have allergies to the Daisy family (Asteraceae) should be cautious or avoid use.
  • Occasional cases of gastro disturbance have been reported.

Ali teaching

Ali Sutherland is a Medical Herbalist, mother, plant and earth lover. Bringing the healing energies of plants to others is her greatest passion. A long working history in Pharmacy brings the benefit of plant/drug interaction knowledge.

Nature’s Nest is her range of home grown herbal products that are made in the healing cottage and medicinal herb garden at her property in the Otaki Gorge where she also provides personal health consultations and retreats.