Echinacea (or Missouri Snakeroot)

Echinacea, is an herb with attractive purple flowers that resembles a black-eyed Susan.

Echinacea plant

Echinacea is a popular garden plant that can grow in sun or partial shade.  As well, it is often included on lists of herbal cures.

Home herbal : cook, brew & blend your own herbs
[editor, Susannah Steel]
New York : DK Publishing, 2011.
Recommending herbs for both well-being and minor ailments, this guide to cooking, brewing, and blending one's own herbs also features an A-to-Z directory of 100 key herbs and practical advice on the medicinal, cleaning, and consumptive uses of herbs.
Healing spices : how to use 50 everyday and exotic spices to boost health and beat disease
Bharat B. Aggarwal with Debora Yost.
New York : Sterling Pub., c2011
Breakthrough scientific research is finding that spices-even more than herbs, fruits, and vegetables-are loaded with antioxidants and other unique health-enhancing compounds. Studies of dietary patterns around the world confirm that spice-consuming populations have the lowest incidence of such life-threatening illnesses as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Bharat B. Aggarwal, the world's foremost expert on the therapeutic use of culinary spices, takes an in-depth look at 50 different spices and their curative qualities, and offers spice "prescriptions" -categorized by health condition-to match the right spice to a specific ailment.
Homegrown herbs : a complete guide to growing, using, and enjoying more than 100 herbs
Tammi Hartung ; photography by Saxon Holt.
North Adams, MA : Storey Pub., 2011.
As the enthusiasm for food gardening and self-reliance continues to grow, a new generation of foodies, gardeners, crafters, and DIYers is discovering the versatility of herbs as a source of flavor, fragrance, healing, and comfort. In Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung provides the definitive guide to planting, growing, harvesting, and using more than 100 herbs. An internationally renowned herbalist, teacher, and certified organic grower, Hartung has filled this indispensable reference with a wide range of information gathered from her 30 years of studying and working hands-on with these amazing plants. Homegrown Herbs is a step-by-step primer for gardeners of every level. It includes in-depth profiles of 101 cultivars, including information on seed selection, planting, maintenance and care, harvesting, drying, and uses in the kitchen, home pharmacy, crafting, and body care. Hartung supports these profiles with an array of herb garden designs, illustrations, and at-a-glance charts. Sensational four-color photographs by Saxon Holt bring the information to life, and an introduction by renowned herbalist rosemary Gladstar highlights the importance of the book to both individuals and the planet as a whole. Packed with valuable information, Homegrown Herbs is much more than an encyclopedia of herbs -- Hartung shares her passionate and compelling vision for a world that is filled with greater abundance, pleasure, joy, and compassion. With Hartung as a guide, readers will find that growing herbs is more than simply a practical act; it is also an inspired one that brings beauty, flavor, and healing to the everyday...and to the world at large.

There are nine Echinacea species indigenous to the North American midwest from Saskatchewan to Texas, including here in Missouri. However, only three species are perennial and collected or cultivated as medicinal herbs. It is often sold as the expressed juice of the aerial parts of the plant, with alcohol added as a preservative.

Echinacea purpurea, the most common purple coneflower, can grow from 18 inches to 5 feet tall. The genus name may derive from the Greek "echinos" for sea urchin or hedgehog, after its bristly leaves and cone.

A word of caution

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. You should always read product labels.

If you have a medical condition or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, check with a health care professional before using this herb.

Traditional use of the Echinacea species includes native North American tribes using it to treat a variety of ailments. This includes mouth sores, toothaches, colds, sore throats, burns, and snakebites. Its use for snake bites gave rise to the common name of Missouri Snakeroot.

Current pharmacological and clinical studies are being conducted with this plant in an attempt to prove its effectiveness in lessening symptoms of respiratory infections. Some safety concerns are being investigated, especially related to dosage and use with children.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff