An overview of Echinacea Tea
Echinacea tea is incredibly popular these days, and for good reason – its medicinal properties are well known, well-regarded, and have been pretty conclusively proven to be legitimate (something that cannot be said about every all-natural and alternative medicine on the market today).
At the same time, a lot of people still aren’t quite sure of what echinacea tea really is or what it is made from – and that’s why we’ve put together this quick guide.
Below you’ll find a lot of inside information about everything that echinacea tea brings to the table, how it was first discovered and how it became as popular as it is today. On top of that you’ll learn a couple of tips and tricks for the best way to brew echinacea tea to get the very most out of it, details about the biggest health benefits and potential side effects it brings to the table, and so much more.
Let’s dive right in!
A Quick History of Echinacea Tea
Echinacea has a long and illustrious history of being used as an all-natural medicinal herb, particularly by Native Americans throughout North America.
Used for at least a thousand years as a poultice as well as boiled up into a tea, the Native Americans commonly used echinacea as a solution to fight back against toothaches, sore gums, and to help them push back against the common cold, measles and mumps, as well as more serious issues like smallpox and arthritis.
A number of Great Plains Native American tribes have been using echinacea for 400+ years, taking particular interest in the roots of the echinacea plant. This is where the highest concentration of its essential oils are located, though the flowers and the leaves of the echinacea plant (most commonly brewed into the tea that is so popular right now) are filled to the brim with polysaccharides.
Unsurprisingly it didn’t take long for early American settlers (especially those with an entrepreneurial mind) to commercialize echinacea as soon as it was discovered.
One early frontier doctor – Dr. HCF Meyer – made echinacea famous throughout the country after peddling it as a blood purification solution as well as “the only surefire, guaranteed way” to cure rattlesnake bites.
Today, thanks to the resurgence in the popularity of alternative medicinal solutions and all-natural products with less side effects than the chemical cocktails cooked up by modern medicine, echinacea is more popular now than maybe ever before.
Combine that with advanced farming, harvesting, and production technology and processes and it’s effortless to see why echinacea is as beloved as it is right now.
How and Where Echinacea Tea is Grown and Harvested
The overwhelming majority of echinacea plants grown today (and historically) have been grown throughout North America, particularly throughout the Great Plains region of the United States but there have also been considerable crops of this plant grown both north and south of that region.
The flower itself looks a lot like a daisy (belonging to the same family of plant, in fact) with a very sweet, very floral, and very attractive smell and flavor profile. It’s easy to spot the echinacea plant from a ways away thanks to its brilliant purple/light pink petals with a gorgeous deep ball of orange in the middle.
It is best to plant this flower in the springtime, giving it plenty of time to develop and mature throughout the spring so that it can bloom in the middle to late summer seasons. Technically considered an “endangered plant”, there has been a real resurgence in growing this plant commercially from seed – usually indoors – when it is to be used in products like teas and topical poultices rather than going out and finding it in the wild.
As far as harvesting is concerned, as we mentioned above both the roots and the flowers of the echinacea plant have incredible medicinal properties. The entire flower is harvested all at once before the roots are separated from the flower, with roots being worked into oils and other all-natural medicines why the flowers are usually allowed to dry and then processed into tea like beverages.
What Makes Echinacea Tea So Popular?
The first wave of commercial popularity for echinacea came thanks in large part to the snake oil industry that bubbled up in the mid to late 1800s.
As we highlighted above, Dr. HCF Meyer (one of the most famous snake oil salesman/frontier doctors in American history) really helped to popularize echinacea in particular. He frequently peddled it as a powerfully effective snake oil treatment, believing in it so much personally that he allowed himself to be bitten by snakes in front of doctors so that he could use echinacea tea (and poultices) to cure himself of these poisons.
One of the doctors witnessing this amazing display purchased a case of the snake oil to study it himself. This doctor, Dr. King, was able to conclusively confirm that echinacea was effective at fighting back a number of infectious diseases – whether or not it was truly a snake bite remedy remains up for debate.
As far as the popularity of echinacea today is concerned, a lot of that has to do with the legacy and the tradition of echinacea tea and it’s medicinal properties.
Folks today are looking for alternatives to modern medicine when it comes to resolving issues like the common cold, like strep throat and sore throat issues, and would love nothing more than to use something like echinacea to help fight back against more serious illnesses and disease.
Tips for Brewing Echinacea Tea
There are a couple of different ways you can brew echinacea to get a delicious and health-boosting tea, using either fresh or dried plant material. If you are going to be using fresh echinacea flowers, however, you’ll likely need about twice as much material compared to dry to get the same medicinal properties.
The first thing you’ll want to do is start with about ¼ cup of dried echinacea (or ½ cup of fresh echinacea) in your favorite mug. Then pour over 8 ounces of boiling water and allow the concoction to steep for about 15 minutes before it’s cooled down enough and ready to drink.
The flavor profile of echinacea can be a little bit all over the place (again depending on whether or not you’re using wild or “domesticated” echinacea flowers as well as whether or not you’re using fresh or dried echinacea herbs for the beverage).
There’s nothing unpleasant about it, though many find it to be a more floral and sweet flavored tea than what they are used to drinking.
Health Benefits of Echinacea Tea
We spoke at length about the myriad of health benefits that echinacea tea brings to the table, but let’s highlight a couple of the most impressive benefits you’ll be able to enjoy when you start to consume echinacea on a regular basis.
Flu fighter – Scientists in the US, as well as the UK, have found echinacea tea to be an effective solution at fighting back against the float. Some studies have shown that the odds of developing influenza drop by 58% after consuming echinacea for four days in a row during flu season.
Level out blood sugar – New studies conducted two years ago highlighted some big benefits of echinacea for diabetics, proving that this beverage can help level out blood sugar levels, prevent blood sugar from spiking, and even help to prevent blood sugar levels from plummeting (important for those that are hypoglycemic).
Improves cellular growth – The antioxidants contained within echinacea are incredibly powerful and highly bioavailable, helping to contribute to positive and healthy cell growth and regeneration. This helps fight back against inflammation and may even help to fight back against cancer and tumor growth.
Calms the mind and fights back against stress and anxiety – Echinacea works as a direct interface with the synapses between your body and your brain, helping to reduce instances of anxiety, feelings of stress and overwhelm, and feelings of depression.
Potential Side Effects of Echinacea Tea
The overwhelming majority of people that consumed echinacea on a regular basis report no negative side effects whatsoever, though some will complain of mild stomachaches, nausea, and diarrhea.
If you’re dealing with these issues the odds are pretty good that you are actually allergic to echinacea as a good idea that you discontinue consuming this beverage and this bed as early as possible. You don’t want to be consuming echinacea if you have an autoimmune disease, either, because it has such a major impact on overall immune response and immune reactions.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of health-boosting properties and medicinal reasons to consider making echinacea a big part of your day to day routine or at least consuming it when you’re starting to feel a cold or the flu come on.
Getting your hands on echinacea may prove to be more of a challenge in the future because of its endangered status in the United States, though you can certainly purchase echinacea seeds and choose to grow them yourself (provided you have the room, the inclination, and the climate to do so).
All in all, this is a powerful herbal tea with a lot of benefits and very few side effects. It’s a wonderful all-natural approach to better health and wellness.