Category Archives: echinacea

Herbal Remedy

By Michael Pickering
Echinacea purpurea, often called a coneflower, has long been used to ameliorate the symptoms of upper respiratory problems caused by viruses and allergies.  The most common form available in the San Francisco Bay Area is in a tablet called Airborne®.  My wife and daughters always have it on hand.  However, if I ingest a tablet, it worsens my symptoms.  I reasoned that the effect was due to the residual incorporated plant material aggravating my hay fever.  So I decided to test the theory by making a tincture wherein the plant material could be categorically removed. 
When water is the extraction solvent, the product is called an infusion and is taken as a hot “tea.”  My solvent of choice for herbaceous tinctures is potable ethanol (190 proof), although as low as 60 proof may be used.  The Everclear® available in California is only 150 proof.  The same brand in Oregon and Nevada is 190 proof, so I had my Oregonian daughter get me some.  That allowed me to filter out the plant residue.  The experiment provided a useable form of Echinacea that is free of allergic side-effects.  My recommended dose is one teaspoon.  I share the extract with my coworkers, friends, and relatives, who all acclaim its efficacy.  One friend actually claims to be allergy-symptom free.
The flower is an annual which my wife and I cultivate in our garden.  Our two plants provide enough cones per season to make 2 liters of solution.  At Pickering Labs, we recently purchased some Echinacea from an herbal supply vendor as a sample for a multi-mycotoxin study, and rather than cones it was supplied as the plant root, called Black Sampson Root. 
Herbal Tincture Preparation:
          Put 100 g dried herbs into a sufficiently sized jar.
          Add 500 mL of 190 proof alcohol.
          Seal, and place on shaker for three days.
o       Note: Longer contact time is recommended for lower proof alcohol.  Two weeks is recommended for 60 proof, for example.
          Filter using a 0.45 μm filter.

Echinacea purpurea