In 1953, in South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation he got to know Ben Black Elk and talked to him about God and the world, life on the reservation, the disappearance of the many Native American customs and about plant medicines. In this way he gained the trust of the medicine man who passed on to him his knowledge about the effect of Echinacea, the medicinal plant that was to be so important to Alfred Vogel.
Black Elk also presented Vogel with Echinacea purpurea seeds.
The Lakota had known of this plant for generations and frequently used it as a remedy – chewed leaves used externally for snake bites and festering wounds and internally to strengthen the immune system in feverish diseases and infections.
Only later did it become clear to Alfred Vogel just how extraordinary was this friendly gesture. On his travels through South America he frequently found that the Indians guarded ‘the secrets of their medicines’ very closely and were in no way prepared to share them with any passing stranger.
Alfred Vogel proved himself worthy of the generous gift. He planted the seeds in Teufen and also in the Engadin where he nurtured and tended his Echinacea cultivations. Years later, he summed up:
‘I have grown and slowly acclimatised Echinacea in the Engadin (at a height of more than 1600 metres). However I had to …have patience for 15 years until the well tended Echinacea plant from the Lakota had adapted completely to the change in climate.’
Echinacea drops and tablets are the best known of the A.Vogel fresh plant remedies. For more than 50 years, millions of consumers in over 30 countries have trusted the antiviral power of Alfred Vogel’s beautiful beloved plant to strengthen the immune system, ward off colds and reduce inflammation.
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