echinacea tincture

laur07July 27, 2009

I'd like to make some and have read that one should harvest the roots from a plant at least three years old after the first frost has killed the top growth. Where I live that doesn't happen until perhaps January which would be a little late for this cold season. Will the tincture last until the following year? Is there anyway to speed the process?

Thanks.

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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Good hygiene will do much more for you than any known medicinal herb.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 9:02PM
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laur07

Uh, I thought this was a forum for herbalism. ?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 9:20PM
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apollog

>> Good hygiene will do much more for you than any known medicinal herb.

Good to know. I will start telling people to throw away the digitalis compounds their doctors give them for heart disease ... if you are right, they can probably control that with a toothbrush, dental floss, and a dab of shampoo.

Oh, wait, you are full of compost.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 9:34AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Others may have a different opinion but the Naturopath I apprenticed with when asked about when is the best time to harvest various herbs said that the best time is when you are there, the herb is there, and you have a need.

Obviously there are optimum times in the plant's life cycle for maximum potency, but as a general rule the various parts of the plant are going to contain the active constituents you are seeking in one degree or another throughout its life cycle. Try an earlier harvest and see how it works for you.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 11:58AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

We are talking about colds, distinct from congestive heart failure in that they are not congestive heart failure, but thanks for playing apollog, maybe next time you will be able to avoid.

There is no optimum time to harvest echinacea because echinacea will not shorten a cold, it simply relies on placebo effect and regression to the mean coupled with confirmation bias. Echinacea has such a spotty record in clinical trials because of this.

Hygene however is wonderful at preventing colds, unless someone sneezes on your face your changes of getting a cold with good practices are vanishingly faint.

Sorry I focus more on avoiding illness than supporting herbalism, shame on me for caring about people not being sick.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 4:43PM
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laur07

Brendan, while I respect your opinion on the efficacy of echinacea tincture, my question was about how to make it, not whether or not I should make it or use it. I am still interested in responses to my original question.
Thanks all.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 11:07AM
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apollog

Hygiene is good, but people catch colds even when they take precautions. Practicing good hygiene does not preclude a few drops of echinacea in the morning.

And your interpretations of the research are not universally shared ...

2007 Meta-Analysis in The Lancet:
"Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1.4 days."

2006 Meta-Analysis in Clinical Therapeutics:
"Based on the analysis, the likelihood of experiencing a clinical cold was 55% higher with placebo than with Echinacea. The absolute difference in total symptom scores between groups was -1.96. ... This meta-analysis suggests that standardized extracts of Echinacea were effective in the prevention of symptoms of the common cold after clinical inoculation, compared with placebo."

2000 Cochrane Review:
"The majority of the available studies report positive results."

2006 Cochrane Review:
"There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults but results are not fully consistent."

Is there enough certainty to convince people like you? No. Is there a fairly good body of clinical evidence to support what herbalists have been saying about echinacea for a long time? Yes, I think so.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 11:38AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

You failed to address the name calling

"but results are not fully consistent."

Meta analysis is done when no large well controlled conclusive study can be pointed too, they match the results of large well controlled conclusive studies that follow about 50% of the time. My stipulation was that the data was mixed, which is highly indicative of something that doesn't work but is hanging on for other reasons (like placebo effect and confirmation bias).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 2:22PM
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apollog

>> "but results are not fully consistent."

Yeah, but irrelevant - among the reasons that the meta-analysis cited were inconsistency in the type of preparation and dose. Which might be relevant to the original question about how to make a tincture.

>> (Meta-analyses) match the results of large well controlled conclusive studies that follow about 50% of the time.

Oh? According to that logic, there is a 50-50 chance that echinacea does reduce the risk of getting a cold. Seems rather different from your emphatic insistence that echinacea cannot be of any value ...

The placebo effect and confirmation bias might explain popular perception, but not the results of double-blind studies.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 3:57PM
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herbalbetty

I have made echinacea tincture from 3-year-old roots and from flowers and stems of plants that are 1, 2 and 3 years old. I think the roots are slightly more potent. But, the flowers and stems are pretty darned good too. If you are going to use the roots, after a frost is a great time. But, as FataMorgana says, if you need it now, dig it now. Good echinacea tincture should numb the tongue when you put a drop on the tip.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 7:39PM
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