Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Over the last 20 years, herbal remedies have surged in popularity. People everywhere are looking for alternatives to the traditional western medicines that have become extremely common with varying degrees of effectiveness. For some, it’s strictly a matter of principle, while for others it might be because they have allergies to specific medicines that they may need in order to treat an infection or cold. A percentage of people are unable to take many of these man-made options for cold relief as well, so one herb has stood above the rest as a common cold and flu remedy, and that herb is called Echinacea.
What Is Echinacea?
Echinacea comes from a flowering plant called the Coneflower that closely resembles the common daisy, and is a member of the same family. This perennial plant can live for as many as 5 or 6 years, and can grow to be as tall as 4 feet. The flowers are usually pink or purple flowers with a larger multicolored center cone that holds the seeds. There are about 9 different types of wild coneflower on several different continents.
One of the interesting things about the wild coneflower, is that it doesn’t have any type of distinct smell until after it has been pollinated. After pollination has been completed, people say they have a smell that is somewhat similar to vanilla. Some types of echinacea have slightly different attributes than others.
History of This Powerful Herb
Echinacea was discovered by native American people when they noticed that animals’ wounds healed more quickly after they were observed feeding on the coneflowers. Over time, native American people experimented with Echinacea by extracting juices from the flower to try to use it to treat various other illness like coughs, infections, and open wounds like snake bites. This knowledge was passed to Europeans when they came to the continent, and as time moved forward, the settlers began using the herb in trade and for medicinal purposes. Eventually, the herbs began to make their way to other areas, as they became a medical staple for several years.