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.