(Echinacea purpurea)

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Echinacea Articles

What is Echinacea?
A nice review by students from the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy

Echinacea vs. the Common Cold
Nutrition Science News (September 1999)

It happens every year—the pre-cold season rush for something—anything—that might fend off the sniffles and sneezes. Today more people are reaching for echinacea but, despite its reputation as an immune stimulant, some controversy remains regarding the herb's effectiveness. The German Commission E Monographs concluded that while Echinacea purpurea herb and E. pallida root are effective, evidence for other forms of echinacea remains inconclusive.

Echinacea and Influenza
Nutrition Science News (March 1999)

People can't avoid coming in contact with influenza, but if they treat symptoms promptly with the following antiviral and immune-boosting herbs, they might have an easier time of it.

Echinacea Gold Rush
Better Nutrition (Jul 22, 2004)

When the cold winds of winter are barely a memory for the Native Americans who live in Poplar, Montana, a flourish of the Yah’pehu, or Echinacea angustifolia, plant emerges from the new prairie grass. The arrival of this long-cherished herb should be a welcome sight, but Curley Youpee, a Sioux tribal leader at the nearby Fort Peck Reservation, knows that once the flower blooms, this lonely corner of the state will be overrun by herbal company employees and root diggers hoarding Montana’s purple gold.


Echinacea Research

Echinacea purpurea: A Proprietary Extract of Echinacea purpurea
Is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold

Holist Nurs Pract. 2016 (Jan); 30 (1): 54–57

This study showed that Echinacea’s long-term prevention was associated with a reduction in the total number of cold episodes, a reduction in the number of days with colds, and a reduction in cold episodes requiring additional medication. Furthermore, the Echinacea test agent inhibited virally confirmed colds, exhibited maximal effects on recurrent infections, and demonstrated that its preventive effects increased relative to therapy compliance and adherence to the protocol.

Use of a Standardized Extract from Echinacea angustifolia for
the Prevention of Respiratory Tract Infections

Alternative Medicine Review 2012 (Mar); 17 (1): 36–41 ~ FULL TEXT

Preparations from Echinacea are used for the prevention and the treatment of the common cold; however, research on efficacy has produced mixed results. [1] In contrast to a large number of positive studies conducted according to a non-controlled design or on a limited population, controlled and wider-ranging studies have frequently yielded negative results, or, at best, have only suggested a positive trend for efficacy. [1] These mixed findings are not surprising, since the term “Echinacea-based preparations” encompasses extracts

(1) obtained using varying extraction methods and solvents,

(2) from different Echinacea species, and

(3) from different parts of these plants (e.g., aerial versus underground parts), with therefore
marked differences in terms of constituent profiles.

A Comparison of the Immunostimulatory Effects of the Medicinal Herbs
Echinacea, Ashwagandha and Brahmi

J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 (Sep 1); 137 (1): 231–235

Herbal remedies based on Echinacea, Brahmi, or Ashwagandha can enhance immune function by increasing immunoglobulin production. Furthermore, these herbal medicines might regulate antibody production by augmenting both Th1 and Th2 cytokine production.

Safety and Efficacy of Echinacea (Echinacea angustafolia, e. purpurea
and e. pallida) During Pregnancy and Lactation

Can J Clin Pharmacol 2006; 13 (3): e262–267

There is good scientific evidence from a prospective cohort study that oral consumption of echinacea during the first trimester does not increase the risk for major malformations. Low-level evidence based on expert opinion shows that oral consumption of echinacea in recommended doses is safe for use during pregnancy and lactation.

Echinacea Trial Results and the Flawed JAMA Study
JAMA 2003 (Dec 3); 290 (21): 2824–2830

This study demonstrates how the structure of a clinical trial can mask significant results. Although echinacea did not reduce the length of already-established colds in children, it did reduce the frequency of recurrences. This is a very significant finding! Sadly, the abstract does not mention this fact. See the original NIH announcement for this trial below.

Echinacea and Truth in Labeling
Arch Intern Med 2003 (Mar 24); 163 (6): 699–704

Echinacea from retail stores often does not contain the labeled species. A claim of "standardization" does not mean the preparation is accurately labeled, nor does it indicate less variability in concentration of constituents of the herb.

Immunological Activity of Larch Arabinogalactan and Echinacea:
A Preliminary, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial

Alternative Medicine Review 2002 (Apr); 7 (2): 138–149 ~ FULL TEXT

Volunteers in the EPA and EPALA groups had increased production of complement properdin after four weeks of intervention. The increased complement properdin may be an indication of one aspect of immune system stimulation in patients treated with either E. purpurea/E. angustifolia or E. purpurea/E. angustifolia plus larch arabinogalactan.

Echinacea Monograph
Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Aug); 6 (4): 411–414 ~ FULL TEXT

Echinacea's immune-stimulating properties are quite complex and are attributed to the combined effect of several of its constituents.13 The Eclectic physicians discovered alcohol extracts of Echinacea directly stimulated white blood cell production and phagocytic activity.6 Modern clinical and in vitro research has confirmed the Eclectics' observations regarding increased phagocytosis,14 NK cell activity, and increased antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, mediated by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a).

Pregnancy Outcome Following Gestational Exposure to Echinacea:
A Prospective Controlled Study

Arch Intern Med 2000 (Nov 13); 160: 3141–3143

Echinacea products are among the most popular phytomedicines on the North American market. Since at least half of all pregnancies are unplanned, many women inadvertently use echinacea in their first trimester. This first prospective study suggests that gestational use of echinacea during organogenesis is not associated with an increased risk for major malformations.
You will enjoy this review article: First Study on Safety of Echinacea During Pregnancy

In Vitro Effects of Echinacea and Ginseng on Natural Killer
and Antibody-dependent Cell Cytotoxicity in Healthy Subjects
and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Acquired
Immunodeficiency Syndrome Patients

Immunopharmacology 1997; 35: 229–235

Both echinacea and ginseng, at concentrations greater than or equal to 0.1 or 10 g/kg, respectively, significantly enhanced NK-function of all groups. Similarly, the addition of either herb significantly increased ADCC of PBMC from all subject groups. Thus, extracts of Echinacea purpurea and Panax ginseng enhance cellular immune function of PBMC both from normal individuals and patients with depressed cellular immunity.

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