Tuesday, August 9, 2011

History of Echinacea

Echinacea is a herb that the world has to thank the Native Indians for. We all knew the benefits of echinacea from the American Indians who used it extensively  since time immemorial before. To the Native Indians echinacea was often referred to as a "sacred herb' as they had lost the original names in their dialects.To most American Indians echinacea was a cure all herb. 

There were various names that were given  to the echinacea species. There was Native Purple Coneflower, for the species E. purpurea; Missouri Snakeroot reflects the plant's use to treat rattlesnake bites, as well Purple Kansas Cornflower conveys one of the areas where this plant can be found growing wild; Indian recalls its use by Native Americans. Other common names include Sampson Root, Black Sampson, and Red Sunflower.

How The American Indians Used Echinacea

The various species of echinacea were used by American Indians both topically and internally to treat all sorts of ailments. They would use echinacea to treat poisonous insect bites and snakebites, healing boils, and various skin diseases. They would also take it by mouth to treat fevers, sore throats, mumps, measles, smallpox etc. 

The American Indians were also known to use sweat treatment to treat various ailments. They added the echinacea juice to the water sprinkled on coals during the sweating treatments. As noted above echinacea featured prominently in traditional American Indian medicine which many experts nowadays have admired as being very advanced and very effective. The American Indians also used fasting and nutrition in treating various ailments. According to the book Echinacea in a nutshell, Cheyenne and Winnebago tribes have records verifying the widespread use of Echinacea across the nation, and archeological exploration of sites dating from the 17th century has produced evidence of its use for a variety of ailments.

Different groups of American Indians used Echinacea differently and for different reasons. The Cheyenne Americans used it to treat sore mouths and gums, the Dakota used it for bowel problems and tonsillitis, and the Delaware used it for gonorrhea.

How the Western World Came To Know and Use Echinacea

When the white settlers settled in American they began to learn about American Indian medicine through interactions with the people around the settlements. The American Indians used fresh echinacea they harvested in summer and showed it to the settlers as a general infection fighter. The settlers developed the fresh echinacea into echinacea tincture  to be used in winter. Tinctures preserve the healing properties of any herb stored this way as the alcohol or vegetable glycerin in which the herbs are stored in will protect the herb from destructive elements.  

But Echinacea was made famous in Western herbal medicine in the early 19th century by the Eclectics, a group of doctors who based their medicine on the use of herbs. The Electic doctor who led the promotion of Echinacea was Eclectic doctor and author called John King, who wrote the famous King's American Dispensary

American Indians Used Echinacea Extensively

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