Echinacea Agustifolia is one of the herbs more commonly in use in Western Civilization today. It is used extensively to prevent and treat the common cold as well as many other viruses and bacterial infections. Many people ingest it commonly throughout the cold and flu seasons in order to have an herbal sheild against rampaging germs.
Echinacea is used frequently as an antibiotic, antiseptic, immune stimulator, depurative, digestive, blood purifier, and to produce sweat. It helps to stimulate proper digestion, and as a mouthwash, it can be used for the treatment of painful gums and toothaches. An infusion can be made of the herb which can help to aid in arthritis pain, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, smallpox, psoriasis, mumps, bronchitis, whooping cough, measles, meningitis, general wounds, and mild to severe ear infections.
Echinacea helps the body’s natural ability to fight invaders through a natural antibiotic which it contains called echinacoside, which has been compared to penicillin. It has successfully treated Rheumatoid Arthritis in Germany (where herbs are much more readily available for medicinal usage). Apply Echinacea to burns and wounds on the skin to promote quicker tissue recovery and healing. It also helps to stimulate the body’s cells to produce a chemical which is naturally produced by the white blood cells while fighting infection. This chemical is called interferon. Echinacea, in combination with antifungal cream also helps to stop reacurring vaginal yeast infections when taken orally 43% better than anti-fungal cream alone. Echinacea kills a variety of disease-causing viruses, fungi and bacteria.
Make sure, when purchasing Echinacea that you purchase Agustifolia for maximum effect. Other types including the popular Purple Coneflower are a much weaker version and will probably have little to no benificial medicinal affects. The medicinal part of the plant is the rootstock.
Some other names for Echinacea (not being exclusive to Agustifolia) are Black Sampson, Purple Coneflower, and Sampson Root.
Echinacea is often used in spells to stregthen their power, just as the herb is used to strengthen the immune system. It was used by the Native Americans not only to stregthen their spells, but as a precious offering to spirits.
Harvesting and Growing
Echinacea Agustifolia prefers dry and open areas, it is a perinneal North American native plant. Spread out the seeds without pushing them into the soil and keep watered. It grows best in full sun, and the best time to pull the roots and harvest the plant is in Autumn.
When taking a tincture of echinacea, take fifteen to thirty drops in a small amount of hot water every three hours. To make a decoction of echinacea, use one to two teaspoons of the dried root to one cup of water, drink one tablespoon up to 5 times a day. For best results with arthritis pain, drink as a decoction. Make sure your echinacea is still good by checking its odor– if it doesn’t have one, don’t use it!
Echinacea can cause a tingling sensation in the mouth when ingested, but this is natural and dissapates after a few minutes. Echinacea is listed with the FDA as “undefined safety” due to the fact that no one has ever had a toxic reaction to the herb.
Chinese: Ma Huang
Ephedra or Ma Huang is a powerful herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for at least 5,000 years. It is the herb from which scientists have extracted ephedrine–one of the most effective drugs known for the treatment of asthma, allergies, and sinus problems. Ephedrine is what is found in most over the counter weight loss remedies and within a popular drug which is illegal in some American states called Mini-thins ©. Occasionally, Ma Huang has been mixed with other stimulants to get a combination of drugs to get high, this is highly not reccomended, and has been attributed to at least one cardiovascular accident that has resulted in death. Lack of knowledge caused political groups in several American states to get Ephedra banned. Nebraska is one which has put a ban on Ephedra, where as Ohio, who recently did have a ban, decided to lift it due to people coming forth.
Ephedra’s folk names (and this is probably a combination of Western and Chinese folk names) include Desert Tea, Desert Herb, Morman Tea, Squaw Tea, and Whorehouse Tea. The name Morman Tea originated with the use of the tea by Mormans who used it as a replacement stimulant for the coffee and black tea they couldn’t drink. Ephedra tea was served in brothels in the 1800’s because it had been claimed to cure gonorrhea and syphilis. Do not try this remedy these days, though, it didn’t work.
Ephedra has been used extensively for the treatment of asthma, and also as a natural decongestant and antihistamine. It has become a very popular ingredient in herbal combinations for allergies and hay fever. Since it is a stimulant which increases the metabolism and increases body temperature, it has been used to control weight and to help prevent sleep. One of the side-effects of increased metabolism is an increased pulse rate and a slight elevation in blood pressure. Ephedra is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, heart problems or thyroid problems. Even though producers of the product have put the warings on the labels, there have been a few unfortunate cases where an overdose has occured due to disreagard of the dosage recomendations. A total of eight accidents have resulted in death.
Despite these events, Ephedra has an excellent safety record considering the large number of people who have used the herb. Especicaly when compared to Aspirin, because 20,000 Americans die each year from taking aspirin and aspirin substitutes.) When used properly the herb is as safe or safer than most over-the-counter medications. Just to make a point about how stimulating this herb can be, Epinephrine (pronounced eh-pin-ef-rin)(a word rooted from Ephedra)is another name for adrenaline. Ephedrine is a powerful stimulant. In fact, it’s molecular structure is close to methamphetamine(speed). Ephedra can produce a positive urine test for amphetamines (speed). Some other medicinal uses of Ephedra include the decreasion of cigarette cravings, promotion of mensturation, and promotion of uterine contractions.
Harvesting and Growing
Ephedra plants grow very slowly and are not easy to raise. In Northern America it grows well in the South West United States and Mexico. Ephedra prefers dry soil and full sun and can be collected in any season, it flowers in early summer. When havesting, place large branches in a light-resistant bag (not plastic), and keep in hot place (sun, near a heater) until dry.
Could not find any information abou the magical uses of Ephedra. If you know of any, please leave your information in the guestbook, or e-mail it to me at: info at asian-recipe.com
The Chinese version (Ma Huang) containes significantly more ephidrine than the american. It is the Chinese version that is recommended for medicinal use. Take Ephedra as a decoction or tincture. Decoction: 2 cups/day. Tincture: 1/4-1 tsp. up to 3 x’s a day. Make a tea from the dry branches in with 1tsp per 1 pint water 5-20 minutes.
Warnings: Causes insomnia and dry mouth. Do not use if pregnant unless trying to promote birth. Causes uterine contractions and early mensturation.
A wonderful herb grown in knot garden for it only grows to be about 10-12″ tall and when clipped it forms a decorative edging. It tolerates part shade, heat and poor rocky soil, however it does best in full sun with good soil. The seeds take a long time to germinate-25-30 days so it is best to get this herb by stem cuttings or plant divisions. Plant plants 12″ apart when planting. It sends forth little pink to purple flowers in mid to late summer. It has a woody , creeping rhizome which sends out a squarish stem that produces dark green, round leaves. The whole plant tends to be hairy and fragrant.
Germander used to be grown to aliviate gout in the early days. It was also used as a snuff and for treating head colds. The constituents of germander include essential oils, tannins and bitter compounds, making germander have astringent, antiseptic, and diuretic properties. It is used to stimulate the appetite and improve digestion. By making a poultice, it is used to help with external, slow healing sores.
With its many benificial uses, Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgoaceae), has been used for hundreds of years in China. It’s folk name is the Maidenhair Tree. Ginkgo is effective in helping to repair the brain from damage, it protects cell membranes from free radical damage, improving concentration and memory, increasing blood flow, helping the symptoms of PMS, and helping with depression. It also has been known to help treat conditions associated with aging such as strokes and heart disease. Impotence, Cochlear Deafness, and Macular Blindness are also some conditions it helps by improving circulation.
Most recently in the United States, Ginkgo has become the popular alternative for women taking hormones for menapause. In studies it has been shown to combat intellectual diminishnent due to lack of circulation to the brain. This herb has shown a very extensive ability to help with many ailments, all of which tend to be connected somehow to circulatory problems.
Ginkgo is commonly combined with other herbs such as Gotu Kola and Hawthorne Berries to help to excel its healing properties. It is combined with Gotu Kola when healing the brain of alzheimer’s disease as well as dimentia and many others. Hawthorne berries are good to mix with Ginkgo to aid in healing the heart and circulatory system.
Use Ginkgo to make a dye for cloth. The inner bark makes a whitish-brown colour. The dye contains lime and potassium carbonate.
Harvesting and Growing
Ginkgo grows best in China, where it originated. I don’t have much information about growth cycles or harvesting. If you do, let me know in the guestbook!
How to take
It takes many leaves to extract any potency from the plant, so it is best to take in pill form rather than an infusion. You can buy it pre-packaged or the bulk herb in your local health food store. Ginkgo has recently become so popular (getting up there with Ginseng) that I saw a packaged version in Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart is a local Super-grocery/K-Mart store)
Warning: Do not take if you have clotting problems.