Echinacea is an American plant with a lot of history. It was used by many Native tribes as an immune stimulant, especially useful in a crisis such as after being bitten by a snake or spider. This medicinal use was shared by Native people with enslaved people, who in general already had strong herbal medicine traditions. Colonists, who tended to think of herbal medicine in terms of witchcraft, brought the pretty plant back to Europe as a cottage garden flower, but without the medical knowledge to go with it. Researchers from Germany studying medical traditions of the formerly enslaved tested the plant in rigorous clinical trials, which scientifically confirmed its effectiveness as an immune stimulant, and bringing knowledge of this powerful medicine to Europeans and white Americans. One of the world’s most popular herbs, it’s often used wrong – this is not a plant that should be used daily (in toothpaste, for example.) It is something to save for when your immune system needs a boost. I take some whenever I find I have been bitten by a tick, or when I feel I may be coming down with something, or as a preventative measure before dental work. It is also not appropriate for people whose immune systems are too tired and depleted to be boosted, such as those with AIDS or chronic Lyme. I generally make a tincture from the whole plant and take a half to a full dropper 3 times a day for no more than 3 weeks.
Also known as Purple Cone flower or Black Sampson, the florets in the center of the flower open in sequential Fibonacci spirals, so there is always fresh nectar and pollen being revealed, and the pollinators appreciate it very much.