It’s fall here in Northern Michigan. The flowers in our garden are fading, the squash is ready to harvest and the Echinacea is ready to be dug up and preserved.
As many of you know, Echinacea is an immune supporter. It can assist your body in warding off colds and flus and can help in recovery if you do come down with an illness.
We have Echinacea all over our little stretch of the woods and this is the time of year we harvest the roots for tincture.
It is best to harvest the plants when the flowers begin to die off and the stems begin to brown. The nutrients of the plant begin to receded back down into the roots, making them more potent.
To harvest, you only need a few sections of the plant. A little goes a long way. Echinacea spreads wonderfully, so using a few plants for their roots shouldn’t deplete your supply, as long as you leave some plants in the ground. Our garden started out with only 2 plants and now we have close to 50. Each fall I will gently dig up 3 or 4 for their roots.
- After you dig up the plants, you can cut off the stem. You will only use the roots.
- Gently wash the roots. I run them under warm water and use a toothbrush to remove the dirt. Be sure to take the time to remove all of the dirt from the roots.
- Once all of the dirt is removed and the roots are clean, use a sharp knife to cut the root into small pieces.
- Fill an amber glass dropper bottle (I use a 4 oz. bottle) 1/4 to 1/2 full with the root.
- Pour 100 proof vodka into the dropper bottle until full.
- Let the tincture sit for at least one month in a cool, dry place before using. Shake the bottle daily during this time.
- If you choose, you can strain the root out using a funnel and cheesecloth, putting the liquid into a new, clean dropper bottle.
- To use, put a few drops directly under your tongue daily during cold and flu season. You can use up to 3 times a day when sick. You can also add a couple of drops to a cup of hot tea or juice.
If you are opposed to the alcohol content within the tincture you can also dry the roots instead of steeping them in alcohol. Use a standard or solar dehydrator to dry them. (We got our dehydrator from www.dryit.com and we love it. You can also build your own.) Store the roots, once dried, in an air tight container, such as a mason jar. To use, steep a few small pieces of the root into some hot tea. I usually crush them a little too. I do this for our kids when they have a cold and usually add a little fresh ginger and honey.
Most of what we grow in our garden is either edible or medicinal and out of all of the plants we grow, Echinacea is one of our favorites.
A couple of weeks ago we were plagued with a bout of gastroenteritis around our household, not to mention a few other friends and family members close by. It’s not fun and despite the fact that we eat healthy, sleep well and take care of ourselves, there are times we come down with illnesses. Thankfully, there are Homeopathic remedies to come to our aid and can help heal and shorten the length of the illness.
Following are a few of the most widely used remedies for gastroenteritis. My hope is that you will never need them for this reason but if there comes a time, as we’ve all had at one point or another in our lives, one of these may help you to obtain a quick and speedy recovery. The symptoms included may not be pretty, but gastro illnesses usually aren’t so here we go:
- Aloe – Diarrhea with a sudden urge. Possible involuntary stool with flatus. Mucus and/or blood may be present.
- Arsenicum Album – Extreme stomach pains that are worse with milk or dairy products. Food poisoning (of any kind). Acrid diarrhea with watery stool.
- Bismuth – Severe cramping, pain or burning in the stomach. Great thirst for cold water. Profuse diarrhea. In addition, the person who would need this remedy desires company during their illness and may have a great fear of death.
- Bryonia – Gastroenteritis that is worse with any movement. The person needing this remedy also may just want everyone to leave them alone. Hides in dark room and wishes not to be bothered.
- Croton Tiglium – Abdominal rumbling with sudden diarrhea. Incredibly urgent diarrhea. Diarrhea that comes immediately after eating or drinking.
- Gambogia – Diarrhea and vomiting together. Sudden urge for stool. Burning or stitching pains before diarrhea. Exhaustion after diarrhea. Stool may contain blood.
- Mercurius – Constant urge for stool. Straining that is undiminished after passing stool. May be bloody and mucus filled. Stool feels hot.
- Nux Vomica – Diarrhea after drinking too much alcohol.
- Petroleum – Ravenous appetite during diarrhea or after stool. Diarrhea in the daytime only. Cramping before stool.
- Phos Ac – Painless diarrhea. Odorless. Involuntary. Profuse. Cases of collapse after long bouts of diarrhea.
- Podo – Profuse diarrhea. Worse at 4am, in the mornings and in the evenings. Worse with drinking, eating and heat. Very watery. Abdomen gurgles.
If you are ever unfortunate enough to have a case of gastroenteritis, the above remedies can aid in your recovery when correctly chosen. If you are unsure of which remedy is right for you, consult a certified Homeopathic practitioner for assistance. The above remedies can be taken in a 30C dose. 3 doses per day for 3 days. Stop taking the remedy when symptoms improve.
If your condition lasts for more than 3 days, is more severe or immediately life-threatening seek medical attention from a certified Homeopath, a licensed medical doctor and/or head to the emergency room, as you may have something other than a bacterial or viral infection.