Tom Greenthumb Gardening

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Echinacea: Learn about Herb Gardening

A colorful way to learn about herb gardening can be done by growing my herb of the week, echinacea. While I have stated that my main purpose for growing it has been to add beauty to my herb garden, I thought it would be prudent to delve into the subject of its medicinal values also. Almost all of the scientific studies regarding Echinacea herb gardening seeds have been completed in Germany. Herbs are governmentally regulated in that country. From my research, it seems that most studies are inconclusive as to whether this herb actually does have the properties with which to boost the immune system.

Echinacea purpurea, the most common type, can be found in most health food stores. It comes in many different forms ranging from teas, tablets, or tinctures. Studies show that of the nine varieties grown in the United States that the purpurea plant's leaves, and pallida root are the most commonly used. As with most plants, there are some structural components of Echinacea that may boost the immune system. In my research as I learn about herb gardening, I've seen some studies show that it may have an effect on a person's immunity system and other studies where it doesn't. The difference seemed to be if the herb was injected or not. Obviously you won't be buying an injectable form from your local health food store. I would also not advise injecting Echinacea you grow for yourself. So how much should a person take? What form is best to take? As with most supplements in the United States, the government has set no standard on its use. I've seen where it is advised to take this supplement no longer than eight weeks. Some say that it loses its effectiveness after that period of time. As with any supplement, you should probably contact a professional in the field of herbal medicine, or medical doctor before taking it in any form. This is especially true if you have any diseases related to your immune system. AIDS, MS, leukemia, tuberculosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy are conditions with which it should not be tried.

Personally, I never get sick. Ever. I also don't get colds. I think the best thing that a person can do for themselves is to eat as much natural foods as they can. If you can grow your own in the garden that's ideal. Stick with the outer aisles of your supermarket where the vegetables are located. We've become a society where fast and processed food is the norm. If you feel a cold coming on, drink plenty of liquids and get a good night's rest. Those are probably the best things you can do to help your body feel good. Garden and grow Echinacea for the beauty of it. You'll be getting exercise, learn about herb gardening, and have something aesthetically pleasing for your efforts.