"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Echinacea: an Ounce of Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care.”
-Benjamin Franklin

(Is there a situation for which that glorious hypocrite doesn’t have a quotable quote???)

Well, Echinacea is not my favorite herb, I’ll be honest. Personally, I think there are so many herbs that taste good, why dabble in the incurably bitter?

In the case of Echinacea, it’s because there is nothing else that works like it. Period. (Well, maybe olive leaf, but that actually tastes worse… if that’s possible!) So in my apothecary, lavender is the queen, but Echinacea is the king. (See that? Spell check even capitalizes it automatically for some unknown reason!)

Not only is Echinacea a supreme preventative of… just about everything… it works for you once you get sick, too. The easiest way to take it is in tincture form. If you want to make you own tincture, you can use my super-cool tutorial:

More kid-friendly Echinacea recipes:

(Sorry, my computer has an unfixable problem that doesn’t allow me to post links, just cut-and-pasties.)

You can use Rosemary Gladstar's directions, too. However, for kids, I’d make the glycerite tincture, and add more cinnamon sticks than I did in my tincture, above.

I add the alcohol tincture to tea. Once upon a cinnamon stick, I used to drink an immune cocktail every day: 1 cup OJ with 1 teaspoon elderberry extract and 1 dropperful of Echinacea tincture. I started that when I was pregnant with Isaiah because that winter the flu was terrible but I didn’t want to get the vaccine. (NOTE: Echinacea should be avoided during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Some sources suggest avoiding it throughout pregnancy, some indicate that it is safe after week 12. Always do your own reading and use your discretion.)

Now OJ is pretty much a verboten food around here unless it is fresh squeezed, and heck no, I’m not a committed enough foodie to fresh-squeeze orange juice every day. Sheesh, people, I have a life outside food.

So I sneak it into tea when I remember. Which is ok, as general protocol for Echinacea is to take it on and off, not continuously. So, maybe, 5 days on (M-F) and 2 days off (weekends). Or 2 weeks on, 1 off. I will swear that the winters I actually do that consistently, NO ONE gets even the sniffles. I’m usually not that consistent. Once you are sick, 1 dropperful of tincture every hour or two should kick a cold or other virus in a day or 2. Sneak it into a spicy, cinnamon-y tea, and children (and picky adults) don’t even notice.

John Paul, the kid who still licks the floor, and Rosie, the mud-eating queen, both had a runny nose earlier in the week and I brewed up a pot of strong Echinacea-rose hip-raspberry leaf tea with stevia and cinnamon (using green Echinacea herb) and made them each a thermos. They sipped all day and (to my surprise) they’ve been snot-free ever since.

Herbs for Kids makes a nice glycerite called Sweet Echinacea that is very tasty. I don’t buy it, because my kids think it is candy and pester me for multiple doses in an hour. It’s that yummy. This would be great for the non-tea brewers among you. (I really don’t think juice is a good thing to give kids. Ever. So I don’t even suggest it anymore, unless you really are going to fresh-squeeze it every day.)

Taking too much or very strong Echinacea will make your tongue numb, but this is harmless (and actually sorta cool). It will fade in a minute or 2.

Well, I could wax poetic for a few more pages about Echinacea, but I bet you’ve had enough, and I need to go feed my pregnant belly. So enjoy your tea today and come back and see us tomorrow.

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”
-Helen Keller


  1. Tell me about juice. I only use it to get a kid to take something "yucky", but now I'm curious to know just how bad it is. ?

  2. I occasionally do the same, but with the understanding that it is only marginally better than a literal "spoonful of sugar." Juice is pasteurized so all the fruit's or veggie's enzymes are gone, plus the fiber is absent, so juice really gives the same type of sugar rush as Kool-Aid, just without the accompanying chemicals that can also cause that 'crazy kid' reaction.

    That's why I think mixing anything yucky with raw honey is a better choice. Even if it is gently heated, it will retain some enzymes. Or a really fruity tea with stevia for sweetness- this masks most yucky things.

    So for juice, I only use fresh-squeezed in our juicer(contains enzymes and some fiber, as I don't strain all the pulp) or whole juices from our BlendTec blender (basically just a reeeeally thin, smooth smoothie that tastes like juice).

    In a pinch, though, you gotta use whatever works... especially for a sick, picky kid, right?