The Power of the Flower

 

Echinacea is all the rage

Medicines made from two Native American plants are becoming the most widely used herbal remedies in the industrialized world.  Echinacea purpurea, the purple coneflower and Echinacea angustifolia, the narrow-leaved purple coneflower are considered "wonder herbs" and can be used for a number of diseases including acute inflammatory conditions.

In his book "The Way of Herbs", leading herbalist Dr. Michael Tierra says of Echinacea.

 

"I have personally seen Echinacea work for even the most severe inflammatory conditions including boils, skin eruptions, sores, venomous bites, gangrene and poison ivy as well as any acute bacterial and viral infections."

 

Recent studies in Germany, where Echinacea has been in constant use since the 1930s, have established the usefulness of this herb not only for chronic conditions but also for more acute arthritic diseases, certain cancers and various viral diseases.

 

Echinacea and the Eclectics

Echinacea was intimately associated with the "Eclectics", a North American herbal movement founded by Dr. Wooster Beach in the 1850s.  As its name implies, eclectic medicine was characterized by the integration of Native American herbalism, homeopathic medicine and recent scientific knowledge.  Around 1900 the Eclectics discovered and popularized Echinacea as the number one anti-inflammatory remedy.  Echinacea was the most sacred healing herb of the Plains Indians and was widely prescribed by the Eclectics until their passing in the 1930s.  The ever-increasing power and wealth of the large pharmaceutical companies, spearheaded by the new "wonder drug" penicillin, drove many herbal movements to extinction.

 

Herbs and Drugs: how do they compare?

 

Herbs

Drugs

Speed of Action

generally slow

usually fast

Side Effects

almost none

many, including death

Allergic Responses

very rare

frequent

Cost

cheap

expensive

Addictiveness

very rare

frequent

 

As can be seen from the table, herbs rate far better than drugs in most categories except speed of action.  And in the fast paced world of the last 50-75 years, speed has increasingly become the number one goal.  People have been willing to risk horrible side effects and a large hit on their wallets, just to get the "quick fix" of synthetic drugs.  However in recent years, many people have come to realize that life in the fast lane doesn’t mean that life is healthy and happy.  In the past ten years people have been slowing down and have been returning in droves to the use of traditional herbal remedies.

 

Do Echinacea and other herbs really work?

In the United States, claims as to the efficacy of drugs, i.e. their ability to cure or alleviate certain conditions, is strictly controlled by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  Unfortunately the FDA have never treated herbal remedies seriously, relegating them to the status of "nutritional supplements", and so herbs have no official approval for use as medicines.  Thus American herbal medicine companies can make no real claims about the use or efficacy of herbs in the treatment of illnesses.  Luckily enough, the German government has been very open to the use of herbs and the German equivalent of the FDA, a body called Commission E, has regulated herbal medicines and given approval to many herbs for specific illnesses.  Thus, German herbal medicine companies can make legitimate claims about the efficacy of their herbal products.  For example, Commission E has approved Echinacea for the following conditions:

 

Medicinal Herbs in our Region

Southeastern Ohio, particularly around Meigs, Athens, Vinton and Gallia counties, is considered one of the best places to find and to grow Native American medicinal herbs.  Not only is Echinacea native to our region but so too are a number of powerful medicinal herbs that are quickly regaining their popularity as effective medicines.  This rise in use of these native herbs potentially provides plenty of business opportunities for local people, as supply falls short of demand by a considerable margin. Some of these powerful local medicinal herbs and their properties or conditions they treat include:

 

1.     Black Cohosh - PMS, menopause complaints, anti-arthritic

2.     Wild Yam - anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, menstrual complaints

3.     Goldenseal - immunostimulant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory

4.     Blood Root - Anti-plaque, anti-cancer, antimicrobial

5.     Blue Cohosh - gynecological problems

 

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For further information on medicinal herbs and their uses you can visit the following sites on the World Wide Web:

 

Horizon Herbs LLC

Medicinal Herbs Online

Mrs. Grieves Modern Herbal