Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, E. pallida and E. angustifolia) is a firm favourite as immune builder and is very popular this time of the year when there is someone with a sniffle and a cough around almost every corner.
Echinacea, or purple coneflower, can be taken as a herb tea, but it is particularly the tincture that is preferred as an immune tonic.
A tincture is a traditional way of extracting the therapeutic constituents of a plant using alcohol and water.
To make your own echinacea tincture you would need:
- a wide-necked clear jar
- echinacea root (or a combination of root and herb)
- 80 proof alcohol (vodka is a good choice)
- distilled water
- a dark glass bottle (with dropper lid if you have)
If you have harvested your own herbs, make sure they are clean from debris.
- Pack your jar 1/5 (one fifth) full of herb
- Add alcohol to the jar to fully cover the herb*
- Leave the jar to steep for at least 2 weeks, gently shaking the bottle every now and then.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, or for clearer results, muslin or cheesecloth. Discard the herbs.
- Decant the resulting liquid, your tincture, into a dark glass bottle. Keep out of direct sunlight
* You can make a alcohol-water mix of 1 part water to 5 parts alcohol if you wish. The idea around using this mixture is that those constituents that are not solvent in alcohol will be solvent in the water.
Echinacea tincture can be taken during times of high-risk of infection and at the onset of cold/flu symptoms.
- It is not advisable to take Echinacea if you are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family, such as marigolds, daisies and chrysanthemums.
- If you suffer from auto-immune disorders, do not take Echinacea without consulting with your medical specialist.