Exit

Nutritional Supplement

Echinacea

Parts Used & Where Grown

Echinacea is a wildflower native to North America. While echinacea continues to grow and is harvested from the wild, the majority used for herbal supplements comes from cultivated plants. The root and/or the above-ground part of the plant during the flowering growth phase are used in herbal medicine.

How It Works

Echinacea is thought to support the immune system by activating white blood cells.1 Three major groups of constituents may work together to increase the production and activity of white blood cells (lymphocytes and macrophages), including alkylamides/polyacetylenes, caffeic acid derivatives, and polysaccharides. More studies are needed to determine if and how echinacea stimulates the immune system in humans.

Echinacea may also increase production of interferon, an important part of the body’s response to viral infections.2 Several double-blind studies have confirmed the benefit of echinacea for treating colds and flu.3,4,5,6,7 Recent studies have suggested that echinacea may not be effective for the prevention of colds and flu and should be reserved for use at the onset of these conditions.8,9 In terms of other types of infections, research in Germany using injectable forms or an oral preparation of the herb along with a medicated cream (econazole nitrate) reduced the recurrence of vaginal yeast infections as compared to women given the cream alone.10

References

1. See DM, Broumand N, Sahl L, Tilles JG. 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;35:229-35.

2. Leuttig B, Steinmuller C, Gifford GE, et al. Macrophage activation by the polysaccharide arabinogalactan isolated from plant cell cultures of Echinacea purpurea. J Natl Cancer Inst 1989;81:669-75.

3. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Immunomodulation with echinacea—a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Phytomedicine 1994;1:245-54 [review].

4. Dorn M, Knick E, Lewith G. Placebo-controlled, double-blind study of Echinacea pallida redix in upper respiratory tract infections. Comp Ther Med 1997;5:40-2.

5. Hoheisel O, Sandberg M, Bertram S, et al. Echinacea shortens the course of the common cold: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Res 1997;9:261-8.

6. Braunig B, Dorn M, Limburg E, et al. Echinacea purpurea radix for strengthening the immune response in flu-like infections. Z Phytother 1992;13:7-13 [in German].

7. Brikenborn RM, Shah DV, Degenring FH. Echinaforce® and other Echinacea fresh plant preparations in the treatment of the common cold. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Phytomedicine 1999;6:1-5.

8. Melchart D, Walther E, Linde K, et al. Echinacea root extracts for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial. Arch Fam Med 1998;7:541-5.

9. Grimm W, Mueller HH. A randomized controlled clinical trial of the effect of fluid extract of Echinacea purpurea on the incidence and severity of colds and respiratory infections. Am J Med 1999;106:138-43.

10. Coeugniet E, Kuhnast R. Recurrent candidiasis. Adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacea. Therapiwoche 1986;36:3352-8 [in German].

11. See DM, Broumand N, Sahl L, Tilles JG. 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;35:229-35.

12. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Immunomodulation with echinacea—a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Phytomedicine 1994;1:245-54 [review].

13. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Results of five randomized studies on the immunomodulatory activity of preparations of echinacea. J Alt Compl Med 1995;1:145-60.

14. Braunig B, Dorn M, Limburg E, et al. Echinacea purpurea radix for strengthening the immune response in flu-like infections. Z Phytother 1992;13:7-13 [in German].

15. Beuscher N, Kopanski L. Stimulation of immunity by the contents of Baptisia tinctoria. Planta Med 1985;5:381-4.

16. See DM, Broumand N, Sahl L, Tilles JG. 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;35:229-35.

17. Brown D. Echinacea root fails to prevent upper respiratory tract infections. Healthnotes Rev Compl Integr Med 1999;6:6-7 [review].

18. Hoheisel O, Sandberg M, Bertram S, et al. Echinagard treatment shortens the course of the common cold: A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Res 1997;9:261-8.

19. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Immunomodulation with echinacea—a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Phytomedicine 1994;1:245-54 [review].

20. Henneicke-von Zepelin H, Hentschel C, Schnitker J, et al. Efficacy and safety of a fixed combination phytomedicine in the treatment of the common cold (acute viral respiratory tract infection): results of a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, multicentre study. Curr Med Res Opin 1999;15:214-27.

21. Turner RB, Bauer R, Woelkart K, et al. An evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in experimental rhinovirus infections. N Engl J Med 2005;353:341-8.)

22. Taylor JA, Weber W, Standish L, et al. Efficacy and safety of echinacea in treating upper respiratory tract infections in children: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290:2824-30.

23. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics: Handbook for Physicians and Pharmacists. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 43-5.

24. Dorn M, Knick E, Lewith G. Placebo-controlled, double-blind study of Echinacea pallidae radix in upper respiratory tract infections. Compl Ther Med 1997;5:40-2.

25. Lindenmuth GF, Lindenmuth EB. The efficacy of echinacea compound herbal tea preparation on the severity and duration of upper respiratory and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Altern Comp Med 2000;6:327-34.

26. Melchart D, Walther E, Linde K, et al. Echinacea root extracts for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial. Arch Fam Med 1998;7:541-5.

27. Grimm W, Mueller HH. A randomized controlled clinical trial of the effect of fluid extract of Echinacea purpurea on the incidence and severity of colds and respiratory infections. Am J Med 1999;106:138-43.

28. Brikenborn RM, Shah DV, Degenring FH. Echinaforce® and other Echinacea fresh plant preparations in the treatment of the common cold. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Phytomedicine 1999;6:1-5.

29. See DM, Broumand N, Sahl L, Tilles JG. 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;35:229-35.

30. Luettig B, Steinmuller C, Gifford GE, et al. Macrocytic activation by the polysaccharide arabinogalactan isolated from plant cell cultures of Echinacea purpurea. J Natl Cancer Inst 1989;81:669-75.

31. Elsasser-Beile U, Willenbacher W, Bartsch HH, et al. Cytokine production in leukocyte cultures during therapy with Echinacea extract. J Clin Lab Anal 1996;10:441-5.

32. Berman S, See DM, See JR, et al. Dramatic increase in immune mediated HIV killing activity induced by Echinacea angustifolia. Int Conf AIDS 1998;12:582 [abstract no. 32309].

33. Serfaty R, Itic J. Comparative trial with natural herbal mouthwash versus chlorhexidine in gingivitis. J Clin Dent 1988;1:A34-7.

34. Yamnkell S, Emling RC. Two-month evaluation of Parodontax dentifrice. J Clin Dentistry 1988;1:A41.

35. Serfaty R, Itic J. Comparative trial with natural herbal mouthwash versus chlorhexidine in gingivitis. J Clin Dent 1988;1:A34-7.

36. Yamnkell S, Emling RC. Two-month evaluation of Parodontax dentifrice. J Clin Dentistry 1988;1:A41.

37. Coeugniet EG, Kuhnast R. Recurrent candidiasis: adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacin®. Therapiewoche 1986;36:3352-8.

38. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Immunomodulation with echinacea—a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Phytomedicine 1994;1:245-54 [review].

39. Hudson T. Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Lincolnwood, IL: Keats, 1999, 54.

40. Coeugniet E, Kuhnast R. Recurrent candidiasis: Adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacin®. Therapiewoche 1986;36:3352-8.

41. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 213-4 [review].

42. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics: Handbook for Physicians and Pharmacists. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 43-5.

43. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 213-4 [review].

44. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics: Handbook for Physicians and Pharmacists. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 43-5.

45. Hobbs C. Echinacea: A literature review. HerbalGram 1994;30:33-48 [review].

46. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 122-3.

47. Hobbs C. Echinacea: A literature review. HerbalGram 1994;30:33-48 [review].

48. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 122-3.

49. Coeugniet EG, Kuhnast R. Recurrent candidiasis: adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacin®. Therapiewoche 1986;36:3352-8.

50. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 63-8.

51. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 121-3.

52. Kocaman O, Hulagu S, Senturk O. Echinacea-induced severe acute hepatitis with features of cholestatic autoimmune hepatitis. Eur J Intern Med 2008;19:148 [Letter].

53. Mullins RJ. Echinacea-associated anaphylaxis. Med J Austral 1998;168:170-1.

54. Gallo M, Sarkar M, Au W, et al. Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to echinacea. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:3141-3.

55. Duke, JA. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1992.

56. Carabin IG, Flamm WG. Evaluation of safety of inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1999;30:268-82 [review].

57. Coussement PA. Inulin and oligofructose: safe intakes and legal status. J Nutr 1999;129:1412S-7S [review].

58. Gay-Crosier F, Schreiber G, Hauser C. Anaphylaxis from inulin in vegetables and processed food. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1372 [letter].

Copyright © 2019 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com

Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.

The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.