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Snake Root

Snake Root

Snake Root, Echinacea or Purple Coneflower is a North American perennial that is indigenous to the central plains where it grows on road banks, prairies, fields and in dry, open woods; itΒ  belongs to the Aster, or Daisy family. It is called snake root because it grows from a thick black root that Indians used to treat snake bites.

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Echinacea's name is derived from the Greek, echinos, meaning "hedgehog" or "sea urchin," referring to the sharp pointed bracts of the receptacles, giving the herb one of its many common names, "Hedgehog."Β  Other common names include Red Sunflower, Purple Coneflower, Black Sampson, Hedgehog, Coneflower, Snake Root, Sampson Root, Rudbeckia, Comb Flower, and Indian Head.

There are three species of this genus that include many of the same applications and properties (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia and E. pallida).

Herbalists consider Echinacea one of the best herbs for strengthening the immune systems, warding off infections and it is thought to be amongst the most powerful natural antibiotics. Echinacea has been used to help ward off the common cold and to relieve the symptoms of hay fever but also to aid recovery from any illness.

The Plains Indians used various Echinacea species to treat poisonous insect and snake bites, toothaches, sore throat, wounds, as well as mumps, smallpox, and measles. Echinacea roots were chewed or used in teas by many Native American tribes as natural remedies against infections of many different kinds including from colds, flues, insect bites, snakebites and burns, and externally as an ointment for poorly healing wounds and abnormal growths. Echinacea was traditionally to sooth sore throats and tonsillitis and poured the tea over hot coals in the steam house to treat respiratory ailments.

Native shamans were said to fashion small totems from the snake root to wear about their persons to strengthen their magic powers and inner defenses during rituals and to keep away negative or infectious spirits and energies. Burning snake root was used for room clearing and around sick people, who would often have the flowers and leaves as well sprinkled on their beds.

Early settlers were impressed with Snake Root or Echinacea and brought it back to Europe, where it became a popular garden plant which exists now in many different hybrid shapes and colours. Echinacea is one of the most widely sold herbal remedies in the world today.

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