The Healing Powers of St. John’s Wort and Echinacea



Walking in hand with a young child, the question, “What is that name of that flower?” often arises.  Sometimes the answer is known, while other times, it could simply be lost to memory or labeled a weed.  We have all seen flowers that could be described as long bright yellow petals cascading back or a narrow leaved purple coneflower.  Both grow as wildflowers; yet, each has exceptional health benefits, such as improving mood and bodily pain or preventing sickness.  St. John’s wort and echinacea are two lifesaving medicinal remedies for millions of men and women and could be a new miracle herbal supplement for you, too!

St. John’s Wort

As far back as the first century, Greek physicians used what became known as St. John’s wort for medicinal purposes.  Its properties have the ability to create many actions in the body and promote a broad definition of healing.  One of the most popular herbal therapies is to ease the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.  In addition, it has been reported to:

  • lessen the symptoms of anxiety and heart palpitations, tiredness, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping
  • assist with obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD], attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], seasonal affective disorder[SAD], and symptoms of menopause
  • stop the growth of tumor cells and treat nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancer cells
  • help heal minor wounds and skin irritations for conditions such as eczema, be used as a topical to treat burns, and ease and treat hemorrhoids (read the label to see if it includes the ingredient St. John’s wort)
  • promote positive effects on mood by alleviating hormonal imbalance and naturally remedy PMS symptoms.

With a deep history spanning over 2000 years, the ancients believed the plant had “mystical and protective qualities.”  Today, it is defined as an herbal supplement.  Though scientific studies have proven St. John’s wort to be effective, there is a warning.  Do not begin the regime without consulting your doctor first.  While it takes several weeks to a month to begin noticing a difference in mood, for example, the supplement can produce substantial side effects if combined with other specific prescribed drugs.

Echinacea

As an American plant species in the sunflower family, the coneflower has another important botanical name: echinacea.  Since the 1800s, this plant was used by American Indians, who used it for blood purification, treatment of dizziness, and rattlesnake bites. Prior to the arrival of modern day antibiotics, extracts from the plant were used to treat infections.  Known for its abilities to stimulate the immune system, most teas offering a boost of wellness include the ingredient echinacea; however, the ingredient can also be found in topicals to assist in healing wounds. Echinacea may also potentially shorten the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, and trials are ongoing to discover whether echinacea can be used in cancer therapy.

There are currently no known adverse reactions to echinacea.

Be Aware of Brand Names

When you are shopping for your herbal supplements, it is wise to ensure the bottle includes the following information:  the name and address of the manufacturer, a batch and lot number, the expiration date, dosage guidelines, and potential side effects.

Drying Flowers

These multi-purpose flowers planted as plants or seeds would be a wonderful addition to your flower or vegetable garden, or growing in pots. As perennials, the advantage is witnessing the flowers bloom year after year. The art of drying flowers is a therapeutic pastime, but by expanding the understanding of medicinal flowers, you can begin to incorporate herbal ingredients into your meals or learn how to make tinctures or oils.  The history of medicinal plants is almost gone unless we continue to expand our knowledge.

 


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