Last October, my body was on the fritz due to general stress and anxiety compounded by the doom of the pandemic. My friend recommended these echinacea drops — and they’re the only thing that’s kept me feeling good since. The first time I reached for the tincture, I’d been hit with serious seasonal sinus congestion. I put a few drops in hot water, added a little lemon, and downed it. The taste was earthy, but mellow. And in a matter of hours, the potion brought me back to life: I went from complete shutdown mode, lying in agony on the couch, to springing awake the next morning with enough energy to change out of sweats and go for a walk outside. Nearly all of my symptoms — from the mucus buildup, stuffy nose, and sinus pain to the coughing, itchy throat, and headaches — improved in what felt like record time.
I hadn’t heard of echinacea before these drops came into my life, but a peek into my medicine cabinet revealed that nearly every product that promised defense for “immunity” had the ingredient listed on the label. Echinacea was sprinkled into all sorts of formulas for total-body restoration, including teas, tinctures, and supplements. Intrigued, I reached out to Wooden Spoon Herbs founder and herbalist Lauren Haynes to learn more. “Echinacea was the height of wellness fashion in the ’90s, when its wild prairie population was nearly decimated due to overharvesting,” Haynes told me. I was a baby in the ’90s, which explains why I wasn’t familiar with it. The fad has passed, but the plant remains as potent as ever.
I talked to Maria Geyman, a naturopathic doctor and founder of Masha Teas, to get her thoughts, too. “Echinacea can be supportive for people’s immune systems, especially from a preventative standpoint,” she explained. And its healing abilities are vast: Known to be an effective antimicrobial treatment against viral and bacterial infections, it’s especially beneficial for upper-respiratory support, something that I am all too familiar with thanks to my chronic bronchitis. Studies have also shown the antibacterial properties are useful for alleviating skin issues like acne and eczema, though I can’t speak to these particular benefits.
While it’s something of a miracle worker, echinacea isn’t a supplement you should add to your daily vitamin regimen. Haynes says it’s an “early-onset” plant that is “safe, gentle, and effective” when you’re feeling crummy or like your body is fending something off. She advises taking it on an as-needed basis for no more than two weeks since it stimulates the immune system.
Over the last six months, whenever I’m feeling run-down — which has happened more than I can keep track of — I drink the drops twice a day for about a week or until my condition shows improvement. While I’ve always had my natural remedies for nursing myself back to health when the annual cold and flu season strikes, none of them have been quite this effective. Echinacea isn’t a cure for sickness, but it’s now a fundamental part of my recovery plan — I’m just trying to channel my inner Strega Nona and activate those witch-doctor abilities. In retrospect, it’s a shame that witches got a bad rap because it seems like all of their pills and potions worked wonders.
Other echinacea products I love
This is my go-to tea when I feel the energy draining from my body. I like that the organic echinacea is blended with organic rose hips, organic peppermint, organic mullein, and organic red clover, which gives it a more fruity taste.
Elderberry sort of became the super-herb for immunity last year, but as you now know, it’s really echinacea that’s doing the work. This elixir contains extracts of both, along with organic reishi extract and organic European elderflower extract.
This herbalicious tea is loaded with organic grown echinacea, organic grown calendula, and organic burdock root. If the name doesn’t make it obvious, the flavor is indeed earthy.
The holy trio of echinacea, elderberry, and myrrh makes this medicinal tincture extra powerful.
I haven’t tried this tincture — yet — but Herb Pharm is solid if you want to save a few bucks.
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