|plant, live (start)||each||Medicinal Herbs||Live plant for transplanting.||Does well in pots.||Sow seed in the early spring in flats outdoors or in the greenhouse, and transplant seedlings out to the garden or field in mid-spring (middle of May in our area). Starting earlier, and transplanting twice into progressively bigger containers will result in a much better rooted transplant, which will probably flower in the first year. It is fairly easy to seed this plant directly in the garden or field. Sow the seed shallowly in the early to mid-spring. Keep moist. Once the plants are up, you must stay on top of the weeds, and thin to 1 foot spacing after the second set of leaves has formed. E. purpurea likes full sun, plenty of water, and rich, limey soil. This is the species best suited to varied growing conditions, whether coastal or mountain, east or west. It is easy to grow, and produces on the average 1/2 pound of fresh root by the dormant period following the second year of growth. Plant 1 foot apart. Flowers 3 to 4 feet tall.||Hardy to all temperate zones.
Herbaceous perennial prairie dweller. Originally native to a wide band stretching from Michigan south to Louisiana, then west to Texas and Oklahoma, but currently uncommon in the wild. Widely cultivated. Does well in pots. Our strain was derived from a rare wild collection and has been successfully and profitably cultivated for years here in the Williams Valley of Southern Oregon. It has not been intentionally modified or hybridized in any way from the original source, and therefore contains the rich spectrum of active chemicals found in the original wild plant.
Medical activity as per E. angustifolia.
On a plant-protection note, please consider that growing and using E. purpurea also takes the strain off wild populations of E. angustifolia.
Some discussion on using Echinacea in herbal therapy:
I find personally that the herb works best as a tincture of the fresh root, used at first sign of the common cold, flu, or indeed any kind of infection. The public wisdom is that Echinacea stimulates the immune system, and that this is the mode of action. The herb almost certainly stimulates the activity of the macrophages and killer T cells as it speeds the bodie's recognition of antigens. According to my teacher (may he rest in peace) Michael Moore, who seemed to have a knack for recognizing these things, the use of Echinacea in the early stages of (any) infection speeds the body response by 24 hours. That means that the use of Echinacea should shorten the period of infection (ie how long you have a cold) by 24 hours. Or, if used quickly enough and in large enough doses, it may keep you from getting sick. "Ward off contagion," as the ancients used to say. A headcold is the inflammation of the sinus membrane -- if you can reduce that inflammation with Echinacea (and snort a little dilute goldenseal tincture, too, for that matter) then you can convince yourself, perhaps, that you don't have a cold at all. Or reduce the symptoms, anyway. Increase the comfort factor.
Regarding the "hyaluronidase effect," Echinacea seems to clarify the interstitial fluids, softening the cartilage, helping remove metabolic waste products by way of the lymph. Echinacea can also be used for treating stretched ligaments and inflamed joints (tendonitis, for example). Generally in this case a high dosage is prescribed, and the use of the joint in question is limited, and the pain and inflammation is reduced.
As for using Echinacea if you have Aids or are HIV positive or suffer from any other autoimmune disease, then be careful, as Echinacea can exaggerate acute autoimmune episodes.
Echinacea tincture can be mixed with ground pharmaceutical grade charcoal and clay and applied to insect stings to help resolve them more quickly. This is a usage well documented in the Native American ethnologies. And, you can use it for treating brown recluse bites -- it will help limit erosion of healthy tissue and necrosis.