You don’t have to be a herbalist to know about the immune-boosting powers of echinacea. It’s one of the better-known herbs, and for good reason. Echinacea tea has been used for centuries to help fend off winter illnesses, and there are countless studies that show it’s an effective immune system stimulant.
Echinacea is most commonly taken as either a tea or a tincture. Echinacea tincture may contain more medicinal compounds because a tincture extracts both the water-soluble and alcohol-soluble components of a herb. The problem is, the dosage for echinacea tincture can be quite high, around 1 ounce every 6 to 12 hours. When you’re sick, you may not want to consume that much alcohol based medicine. In that case, echinacea tea makes more sense.
Benefits of Echinacea Tea
A hot cup of echinacea tea a few times a week can help prevent winter colds and flu. If taken at the first sign of sickness, many people believe that echinacea helps them get better faster or prevent the illness from developing altogether.
Echinacea does more than just stimulate the immune system. According to WebMd, echinacea activates chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation. The fact that it works as a natural anti-inflammatory may another reason why it helps people feel better while they’re sick. Echinacea also contains compounds that have been shown to attack yeast and fungi directly, which means echinacea tea may also boost healing from yeast infections.
How to Make Echinacea Tea
Echinacea tea can be made with either fresh or dried plant material. If you’re using fresh echinacea for tea, you’ll need about twice as much for a tea of the same strength. Start with 1/4 cup of loose leaf dried echinacea (or 1/2 cup fresh homegrown echinacea) and pour about 8 ounces of boiling water over the herb. Allow the mixture to steep for about 15 minutes.
Some of the hot water will absorb into the plant material, leaving you with just the right amount to fill a standard size 6-ounce mug.
To be perfectly honest, plain echinacea tea isn’t exactly tasty, and cannot be described as “the perfect cup” by any stretch of the imagination. To make a great cup of echinacea tea, you’ll need to add in other herbs to improve the flavor and ideally increase the medicinal benefits.
Traditional Medicinals sells mixes theirs with lemongrass and peppermint, both of which have a strong but pleasant flavor. Ginger and cayenne are also great flavors masking herbs that will help open up your respiratory system. We grow our own lemongrass and have homegrown ginger indoors, and they both make a delightful sinus-clearing tea in the winter months.
If you want to help boost the medicinal content of your echinacea tea blend, try mixing it with any of the following herbs:
Homemade Echinacea Tea
This homemade echinacea tea is just what the doctor ordered to help clear up a cold. Echinacea boosts the immune system while lemongrass and peppermint help clear the sinuses.
- 1/4 cup echinacea dried
- 1 tsp lemongrass dried
- 1 tsp mint dried
Mix all three herbs together and then add 8 ounces of boiling water.
Allow the mixture to steep for about 15 minutes.
Enjoy plain or with honey.
Large batches of this can be made in advance and stored until needed. To make 1 cup of tea, use a heaping 1/4 cup of the mixture.