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Edition 8: June 2009

Edition 8: June 2009

What Herb is That?
Echinacea
Helpful herb fights infection

THE ECHINACEA plant is the beautiful purple coneflower. Named for the prickly scales in its large conical seed head, the herb resembles the spines of an angry hedgehog (echinos is Greek for hedgehog).
The Native Americans used echinacea to treat snakebite, fevers and old stubborn wounds. Results of archeological digs indicate that Native Americans may have used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections and wounds and as a general "cure-all."
 The early settlers soon adopted the plant as a home remedy for colds and influenza and it became popular with the 19th Century Eclectics. Throughout history people have used echinacea to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning and diphtheria.
Although this herb was popular during the 18th and 19th Centuries, its use began to decline in the United States after the introduction of antibiotics.
Echinacea preparations became increasingly popular in Germany throughout the 20th Century. In fact, most scientific research on echinacea has been conducted in Germany.
In the past 50 years it has achieved fame for its prized anti-viral properties and it has been used in Aids and Cancer therapies.
Mostly the root is used and is harvested after flowering - washed, chopped and dried. Echinacea is a potent immune stimulant which acts as one of the main anti-infective remedies. It is effective against viral, fungal and bacterial infections.


Recipe
Take advantage of Echinacea’s infection-fighting potential by brewing a decoction. The taste is initially sweet, then bitter.
A decoction should be taken three times daily for colds and flu, as soon as you feel the first twinges coming on.  Take doses every couple of hours for the acute stage of infections.
Use the decoction or diluted tincture as a wash for infected wounds. Bathe the affected area frequently.
Use the decoction as a gargle for sore throats.
The root can be powdered and used as a dust for infected skin conditions such as boils or weeping infected eczema.
Decoction recipe: Add two teaspoons of dried or fresh root per cup of water to a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Drink hot or cold.


Echinacea works in a two-fold way; by destroying the harmful organisms directly (the plant contains echinacoside, a natural antibiotic with broad spectrum antimicrobial activity) and by stimulating the response of the body’s immune system.
When disease-causing microorganisms attack, cells secrete chemicals that attract infection-fighting white blood cells (macrophages) to the area. These macrophages engulf and digest the invaders. Echinacea boosts their ability to destroy germs. It also energises other white blood cells, the natural killer cells and T lymphocytes.
Echinacea mimics interferon, the body’s own virus-fighting compound. Before a virus-infected cell dies, it releases a tiny amount of interferon, which boosts the ability of surrounding cells to resist infection.  Echinacea appears to do the same thing.
The herb also has a cleansing, alterative (blood purifying) action and helps promote the body’s series of activities by which the whole process of inflammation, as well as the infection is healthily resolved.
It can be used to help acute infections such as tonsillitis, abscesses and boils as well as longer lasting entrenched problems such as bronchitis, pelvic infections and sinusitis.
A superb help when there is long-term immune deficiency or dysfunction; echinacea can be used as an adjuvant therapy with antibiotics and chemotherapy. For serious ailments or emergency, it is best used as an adjuvant therapy to support other treatments.


Fact File

Name: Echinacea
Latin name: Echinacea Angustifolia
Actions: Antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergic, lymphatic tonic
Echinacea is used to treat: Colds or influenza (especially before onset, or in the early stages); candidiasis; Strep throat - as a gargle and tea; Staph. Infections, impetigo, under nails etc; urinary tract infections, cystitis, urethritis especially; pelvic Inflammatory disease; Tonsil and throat infections; Infected wounds that are hard to heal; burns, topically, internally; herpes, topically, internally; skin ulcers; eczema, psoriasis; whooping cough; bronchitis; rheumatoid arthritis, for its anti-inflammatory effect; as an anti-allergy treatment for food allergy, environmental sensitivity and hay fever; blood poisoning, food poisoning, large doses internally; bites of all kinds: insect bites and stings, animal bites. Applied full strength to bite, taken internally
Precaution: People with allergies to plants in the daisy family (compositae) should not take echinacea unless under the supervision of a health care provider.


Essential oil of the month
Eucalyptus
Penetrating chest-opener dispels stuffy sinsuses

MORE THAN 500 species of eucalyptus are indigenous to Australia and several of these are cultivated in other countries, such as China, Spain, and South Africa.
The Globulus variety is most used in aromatherapy and Eucalyptus Essential Oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs. Australian Aboriginal people used it medicinally to treat infections and fevers and especially as a fumigant for lung congestion.
Eucalyptus reigns supreme in respiration, opening the lungs and encouraging breathing by increasing oxygen in the cells and promoting the function of the red blood cells.
Eucalyptus oil is best known for its ability to help clear nasal or sinus congestion and is an excellent decongestant in respiratory infections.
It is unparalleled in its ability to clear lung phlegm and its strong anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties make it useful for any infectious conditions of the respiratory system. It thins the mucous and acts as an expectorant, helping people cough up excess mucous.
A small quantity of the oil when vapourised in a room can kill 70 per cent of the staphylococcus bacteria present.  
Eucalyptus can be cooling in nature when compresses of the essential oil and cold water are applied to the legs to reduce fever and it should not be used like this if the patient is chilled.  It clears the head wonderfully, also relieving headaches and neuralgia.
Used in a bath or in a local wash and applied in a 1-2 per cent dilution it will counter the residual pain and inflammation that sets in with measles, chicken pox and shingles even after the spots are gone.
When blended with bergamot it is useful against cold sores and herpes.  
Eucalyptus is an excellent insect repellent and is also good at treating bites and stings.


Recipe
For blocked sinuses and tight coughs
Add 1 drop of Eucalyptus oil to a ceramic bowl containing about a litre of very hot water. Bend your head over the bowl and cover with a towel. Inhale the steam, either through your nose or your mouth, aiming to get as much Eucalyptus oil as possible onto the respiratory membranes. Blow the nose after several breathes and repeat until you feel some relief from congestion.
Not suitable for babies under 12 months.


Eucalyptus is used for aches and pains due to its warming (rubefacient) activity. For this reason it is an excellent additive for massage blends, treating painful joints and aches from over exertion in athletic activities, countering muscle knots and spasms.  
For the skin, Eucalyptus can be used for oily conditions and to treat acne. It is also helpful for dandruff.  
Psychologically, this oil is piercing and purifying and useful in meditations when you have a cold to keep the mind clear. It improves mental alertness.
The oil helps us release repressed feelings of grief, especially when massaged into the lung meridian. Making wailing sounds when inhaling the oil promotes this release. Freeing the breath, by opening the sinus cavities, allows us to breath in the essence of joy.
Eucalyptus helps us take responsibility for our energy projections, by realising the tendency they have to manipulate others.
Insight develops about our tendencies to regress into old patterns and behaviors around family.  It generates a deeper awareness of relationship, understanding healthy boundaries, so we no longer unconsciously manipulate someone to fulfill our needs.
Eucalyptus’s energy heightens awareness of oneness and our connection to all life on this planet. This produces greater insight into the nature of relationships and the responsibility that they require; in fact it sharpens our perception of responsibility for our life and destiny.
This oil is suited to people who feel “hemmed-in” or constricted by their surroundings, whether at work, at home or in society.
It gives a sense of a wider life experience, giving us: “room to breathe”, transforming a sense of suffocation into one of expansive renewal.  
Eucalyptus makes a good psychic cleaner in a burner, to cleanse rooms of negative energy. In doing so it disinfects the air, dispelling melancholy, restoring vitality and a positive outlook.


Fact File

Name: Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Latin: Eucalyptus Globulus
Characteristics: Fresh sharp camphoraceous top notes and penetrating woody undertones. Overall it is stimulating, refreshing and clearing.
Eucalyptus blends well with: most other wood oils and with lavender, bergamot and lemon. 
Main therapeutic actions: Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-neuralgic, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti- spasmodic, anti-viral, astringent, decongestant, deodorant, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge (reduces fever).
Conditions and ailments: Laryngitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, flu, respiratory conditions, muscle pain, sprains, rheumatism, fever, headache, migraine, wounds, and debility.
Precaution: Eucalyptus oil should not be used in cases of epilepsy or high blood pressure.

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