Documents: Special Interest: Horticultural Therapy:

Nature's Defense: Echinacea
by Rebecca Kangas
by Rebecca Kangas

email: horticulturist@hotmail.com

Rebecca Kangas lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She has a husband, 3 children and many plants! Rebecca is also a Master Gardener, and is currently working towards her Diploma in Horticulture.

She also writes horticulture articles for the local Finnish newspaper, Canadan Sanomat.

Rebecca believes in organic gardening, and enjoys teaching her children, friends and readers about the benefits of horticulture.


March 30, 2003

Hopefully, you have not had a cold or flu lately. For myself, I have not been so lucky. My bed and the kleenex box have been my closest friends for the past few weeks. Next year I hope I'm smarter and I take advantage of nature's defense: Echinacea.

Not only can the flower accent any landscape, the medicinal values are outstanding. The root system of Echinacea is the most popular area of this medicinal herb, noted for its ability to increase the chances of fighting off many illnesses, including the common cold and flu. The plant is also non-toxic, making a great addition to a children's garden. The extract from this amazing plant has been clinically proven to improve the white blood cell count and create immune responses.

Taking Echinacea for two weeks on and one week off stimulates immunity rather than taking a steady or ongoing dosage. Before medicinal laboratories existed, this exceptional plant was used for treatment of sore throats, toothaches, infections, wounds, snakebites, skin problems, as well as measles, mumps and smallpox.

And, best of all, Echinacea is a zone 3 perennial plant with a 1-2 month blooming period. Echinacea purpurea (a.k.a. Purple Coneflower) enjoys full sun, or part shade in hotter climates, and will typically grow in most soil conditions with the exception of excessive moisture.

This plant is also fairly pest and disease resistant, and drought tolerant. Not only does this plant benefit our health, but if more plants were as accommodating as Echinacea purpurea, our gardens would almost be self sufficient! After two weeks of being sick, I could only wish my houseplants were as easy to take care of - it looks as though they've caught my cold!

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