Echinacea is one of the best known herbs. It is so easy to grow and naturalizes beautifully. It attracts butterflies and bees to your garden and the birds love the seeds in the fall. Medicinally, it is widely used to ward off a cold or to give a boost to the immune system. Herbalists value it for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also reputed to help alleviate toothache. The whole plant is safe to use and a tea can be easily made from the flowers and leaves. The root can also be used to make a tea but rather than just infusing it in boiled water, as you would for the aerial parts of the plant, it is better to simmer it for about 10- 20 minutes. Fresh echinacea and good tinctures will produce a tingling, slightly numbing sensation on the tongue.
Although the root is reputed to make the best tinctures, I think there is value in making whole plant echinacea tinctures as well. It is so quick and easy to do.
1. Wash and pat dry whole echinacea plant.
2. Chop entire plant into small pieces, macerating the root slightly.
3. Place chopped plant into sterilized, dry, glass jar.
4. Cover plant material with 80 proof vodka,add enough so the vodka is 2-3 inches above the herb. Seal jar.
5. Place the jar in a warm place and shake it daily for 4-6 weeks.
6. Strain the herbs and reserve the liquid. Rebottle the liquid in a glass bottle, label it and keep out of the reach of children. A cool, dark location is best.