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Echinacea

Echinacea

Botanical Description & Habitat



Echinacea Angustifolia
Echinacea Pallida
Echinacea Purpurea

The German Commission E specifies: Echinacea Pallida and Echinacea Purpurea.

Family

Compositae

Common Names

Black sampson
Purple coneflower
Sampson root

Habitat

Prairie region of the United States, west of Ohio

Description

Echinacea is a perennial plant which produces a stout, bristly, hairy stem 2-3 feet in height. The leaves are linear, lanceolate, and grow 3-8 inches long; they are rough, hairy, and 3-nerved. The upper leaves are sessile, and the lower leaves grow on long petioles. A single large flower blooms from July to October; it is white-rose to pale purple in color, with a conicle disk and 12-20 large, spreading rays.

Medicinal Parts

Aerial parts (i.e. above ground)
Underground parts - fresh or dried

Historical Properties & Uses

Traditional uses for E. angustifolia have been recorded for the Blackfoot and Cheyenne although it was taken back to Switzerland after a visit with the Lakota Sioux.

These include: Infusion of leaves and roots taken for sore mouth, gums or throat (in a Blackfoot Toothache Remedy: roots chewed to cause mouth numbness for toothaches); topical analgesic for necks and to stimulate the flow of saliva.

Echinacea is used to stimulate the body's immune system and to fight viral and bacterial infections. It inhibits the enzyme hyaluronidase, which when activated destroys the cementing substances between cells and allows pathogens to infiltrate the body. The herb stimulates T-cells and activates macrophages that destroy foreign intracellular invaders. Echinacea increases levels of properdin, a naturally-occurring chemical thought to increase cellular resistance to infection. It also displays anti-tumor and direct antibiotic actions.

Echinacea's other immunity-boosting properties are currently being investigated. There are indications the herb delays resorption of other drugs, thereby prolonging their action in the body. It could likewise prolong the effects of any other herbs administered simultaneously.

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E for both internal (colds and influenza) and external use (wounds).

Echinacea Angustifolia herb and root and Echinacea Pallida herb, however, have not achieved approval status by the German Commission E. Either there was insufficient evidence in favor, or a contraindication.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Grinnell, George Bird 1905 Some Cheyenne Plant Medicines. American Anthropologist 7:37-43.

Grinnell, George Bird 1972 The Cheyenne Indians - Their History and Ways of Life Vol.2. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press.

Johnston, Alex 1987 Plants and the Blackfoot. Lethbridge, Alberta. Lethbridge Historical Society.

Method of Action

Echinacea is:

antibiotic
antiphlogistic in action
antiviral
may delay resorption of other active chemicals
stimulates cytotoxicity (via macrophages)
improved hyperleukocytosis
immune stimulant
improved leukopenia
stimulates macrophage and T-cell activity
stimulates natural killer cells
normalized the percentage count of neutrophils
stimulates phagocytosis
be effective against staphylococcus aureus infection
be effective against streptococcal infection
increased the phagocytic power of observed leukocytes in tuberculosis
inhibits tumor activity

Echinacea has antibiotic action
Echinacea has been shown to have mild antibiotic activity against Streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus, attributable to the constituent echinacoside.

Echinacea increases the body's immune defense
One of the main actions of echinacea is to inhibit the activity of the enzyme hyaluronidase.

This enzyme is normally used by pathogens to destroy hyaluronic acid (the cementing tissue between cells) allowing passage into sensitive tissues. The constituent appearing to be responsible for inhibiting hyaluronidase has been identified as echinacin B.

Interestingly, a mechanism very similar to the hyaluronidase system has been proposed as a possible substrate for the generation of rheumatism and tumor formation and the beginnings of cancer.

The antihyaluronidase activity of echinacea has also been shown to be involved in the regeneration of cellular connective (granulomatous) tissue destroyed during infection. In one study, heterogeneous and homogeneous fibrin grafts were transformed, via amino acids, into components of the connective tissue substance. Under the influence of leucocytic enzymes. The transformation was facilitated by a total extract of echinacea.

Compared to pure fibrin grafts, echinacea-fibrin grafts exhibited increased healing tendency of the wound areas and less marked leucocytic infiltration. New fibrocytes appeared more rapidly and on a larger scale, and the extract appeared to develop protective action towards the mesenchymal mucopolysaccharides produced by the fibrocytes. In other words, the echinacea stimulates the breakdown of fibrin into mucopolysaccharides which are transformed into new connective tissue by the young fibroblasts, the formation of which is also stimulated by echinacea.

Echinacea stimulates macrophage and T-cell activity
Purified polysaccharides (EPS) prepared from echinacea possess a strong activating force on macrophages which then develop pronounced extracellular cytotoxicity against tumor targets. The activation is brought about by EPS alone and is independent of any cooperative effect with lymphocytes. The macrophages activated by EPS are also instrumental in the production and secretion of oxygen radicals and interleukin 1. EPS has not effect on T lymphocytes, and B lymphocytes are only moderately stimulated. EPS has no toxicity.

In another study two polysaccharides were discovered stimulating T-cell activity--in fact twenty to thirty percent more than a very strong T-cell stimulator.

Echinacea has tumor-inhibiting activity
USDA researchers have also discovered a tumor-inhibiting property in echinacea, this one being an oncolytic hydrocarbon from the essential oil. Tumors inhibited were Walker's carcinosarcoma and lymphocytic leumkemia. It was inactive in lymphoid leukemia.

Echinacea stimulates phagocytosis
Bacterial skin infections in humans have been rapidly and completely healed as the result of improvement of the phagocytosis rate.

Echinacea has antiphlogistic action
In a study of the antiphlogistic effect of echinacea, using the carrageenan and croton oil tests. It was found the echinacina B was more active in the later phase of the inflammatory response. This latter phase is reportedly characterized by vasoactive prostaglandin intermediate release from neutrophils after their interaction with carragenan. The substance also inhibited ear dermatitis induced by irritant croton oil, which is reportedly mediated also by arachidonic acid metabolites.

Echinacea may delay resorption of other active chemicals
A German patent reveals the presence of two factors, A & B, in echinacea. Factor A causes a cortisone-like stress and pyrogenic effects, while factor B has an antihyaluronidase effect and is thus recommended for detoxification of remedies or for prolongation of their effective time by delaying their resorption. Both factors are nontoxic. This intriguing hypothesis needs further verification.

Echinacea may be more effective than cortisone
It has been found echinacin is sometimes more effective than cortisone. For example, streptococcal infection spreads rapidly in guinea pigs pretreated with cortisone, but is contained by echinacin. It has also been found 0.04 ml of fresh plant extract possesses a hyaluronidase inhibitory action equal to 1 mg of cortisone.

Echinacea increases properdin levels
Intravenous injections of echinacea (0.6 ml/kg of body weight) in rabbits initially decreased but subsequently greatly increased endogenous levels of properdin, a chemical thought to be involved in resistance to viral and bacterial infection.

Echinacea is antiviral
Alcohol and water extracts of echinacea, and echinacin, protect cells against virally induced canker sores, influenza and herpes by inducing an interferon-like mechanism.

Many of the above studies can be viewed as a simple verification of an early eclectic physician who observed over 100 blood counts from patients with infectious disease, mainly tuberculosis. Echinacea increased the phagocytic power of observed leukocytes. It also normalized the percentage count of neutrophils, and improved both hyperleukocytosis and leukopenia. The proportion of white cells to red cells normalized. The elimination of waste products was increased. This approached worked best in cases where no evidence of phagocytosis was present before the herb was administered.


Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
The anti-inflammatory activity of echinacea can be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital and certain other sedatives and hypnotics, such as chloral hydrate and meprobamate. This is also true of beta adrenergic blocking agents, such as propranolol.

Comments
There is evidence to show combining bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent. However, how this finding applies to herbal anti-infectives is still unknown.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Echinacea has no known toxicity.

Contraindications:

Although evidence is slight, it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Progressive conditions (e.g. multiple sclerosis and lupus as well as auto-immune disorders, including AIDS) are considered by some authorities to warrant a warning against the use of echinacea.

It is not known which constituent/s are responsible, nor if it applies to the clinical situation.

Heavy use of Echinacea may induce infertility in the male. Incidentally, hyaluronidase is one of three enzymes attached to the acrosomal membrane located on the head of the male spermatozoon. This enzyme attacks the intercellular matrix of the cumulus oophorus and clears a path to the zona pelucida, without which action the spermatozoon cannot bind to the zona and fertilization cannot take place. It would not be unreasonable to think, therefore, men taking large amounts of echinacea would experience some infertility.

The German Commission E status for Echinacea angustifolia herb and root and the root of Echinacea Pallida is "null" or neutral i.e. while it is not approved, there is no documented risk. There may also be some concern over the claims made by manufacturers i.e. they are unproven.

Echinacea Pallida root and Echinacea Purpurea herb have approval status by the German Commission E.

The German Commission E recommends a limited duration for the use of this herb of not more than 8 weeks (3 weeks parenterally).

According to some panel members, the unapproved variations may be approved in the near future, as more reliable herbal sources and studies become available.

References:

Blumenthal, M. German Commission E Monograph for Echinacea purperea herb. HerbalGram, 1994, 30:48.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bodinet, C. et al: Host resistance increasing activity of root extracts from Echinacea species. Planta Med. 1993, 59(Supp): A672.

Bukovsk? M et al., [Immunomodulating activity of ethanol-water extracts of the roots of Echinacea gloriosa L., Echinacea angustifolia DC. and Rudbeckia speciosa Wenderoth tested on the immune system in C57BL6 inbred mice] Cesk Farm, 1993 Aug, 42:4, 184-7.

DeSmet, P. et al. (Eds.), Adverse Effects of herbal Drugs 2. Springer Verlag, Berlin, 1994.

Lersch C et al., Nonspecific immunostimulation with low doses of cyclophosphamide (LDCY), thymostimulin, and Echinacea purpurea extracts (echinacin) in patients with far advanced colorectal cancers: preliminary results. Cancer Invest, 1992, 10:5, 343-8.

Luettig B et al., Macrophage activation by the polysaccharide arabinogalactan isolated from plant cell cultures of Echinacea purpurea. J Natl Cancer Inst, 1989 May 3, 81:9, 669-75.

Mengs U et al., Toxicity of Echinacea purpurea. Acute, subacute and genotoxicity studies. Arzneimittelforschung, 1991 Oct, 41:10, 1076-81.

See DM et al., 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.

Snow, J.M. : Echinacea (Moench) Spp. Asteraceae. Protocol J. Botan. Med. 2(2).

Wichtl, M. Herbal Drugs & Phytopharmaceuticals. CRC, Boca Raton, 1994.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried tuber and root
1 gram

Tea
made of 1/2 tsp dried tuber or root

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 0.25-1 ml

Tincture
1:5 in 45% alcohol, 2-4 ml

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

Internal use:

Tincture corresponding to 900 mg of the herb. (Echinacea Pallida)
6 - 9 ml expressed juice (Echinacea Purpurea)

External use:

15% expressed juice in a semi-solid preparation.

The German Commission E recommends a limited duration for the use of this herb of not more than 8 weeks (3 weeks parenterally).

One study also found that more than one dose a day suppressed the immune response. (Coeugniet, 1987)

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Coeugniet, EGB & Elek, E: Immunomodulation with Viscum album and Echinacea purpurea extracts. ONkologie, 1987, 10(supp 3):27.

Facts and Comparisons. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Dec, 1996.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.

Abstracts

References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Bauer, R.: Echinacea drugs - effects and active ingredients. Z. Arztl Fortbild (Jena). 1996, 90(2): 111 - 115.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bonadeo, I., G. Bottazzi & M. Lavazza. 'Echinacina B: polisaccaride attivo dell' echinacea. Riv. Ital. Essenze Profumi, 53, 281, 1971.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Buesing, K.H. Hyaluronidasehemmung als wirkungsmechanismus einiger therapeutisch nuzbarer naturstoffe. Arzneimittel-forschung, 5(6), 320-322, 1955.

Buesing. The effect of extracts from echinacea purpurea on the properdin levels in rabbits. Zhurnal Der Immunitatsforschung, 115, 169-176, 1958.

Bukovsk? M et al., [Immunomodulating activity of ethanol-water extracts of the roots of Echinacea gloriosa L., Echinacea angustifolia DC. and Rudbeckia speciosa Wenderoth tested on the immune system in C57BL6 inbred mice] Cesk Farm, 1993 Aug, 42:4, 184-7.

Clark, T.H., A.H. Conney & B.P. Harpole, et.al. 1967. Drug interactions that can affect your patients. Patient Care, 1(11). pp. 33-71.

Coeugniet, EGB & Elek, E: Immunomodulation with Viscum album and Echinacea purpurea extracts. ONkologie, 1987, 10(supp 3):27.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Dorsch, W.: Clinical application of extracts of Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea pallida: critical evaluation of controlled clinical studies. Z. Arztl Fortbild (Jena). 1996, 90(2): 117 - 122.

Facts and Comparisons. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Dec, 1996.

Farnsworth, & Waller. Current status of plant products reported to inhibit sperm. Research Frontiers In Fertility Regulation, 2(1), 1-16, 1982.

Felter, H.W. The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology And Therapeutics. Eclectic Medical Publications, Portland, Oregon, 1983 (first published in 1922).

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. Macmillan, NY.

Grinnell, George Bird: Some Cheyenne Plant Medicines. American Anthropologist, 1905: 7:37-43.

Grinnell, George Bird: The Cheyenne Indians - Their History and Ways of Life Vol.2. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. 1972.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hyde, F.F. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Assoc: West Yorks, England, 1983

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Keller, inventor. Recovery of active agents from aqueous extracts of the species of echinacea. Chemie Gruenenthal G.M.B.H. Ger. 950,674, Oct 1956.

Koch, E. & H. Uebel. Experimental studies concerning the local action of echinacea purpurea on tissues. Arzneimittle-forschung, 3, 16-19, 1953.

Koch, E. & H. Hasse. A modification of the spreading test in animal assays. Arzneimittel-forschung, 2, 454-467, 1952.

Kuhn, O. Echinacea and phagocytosis. Arzneimittel-forschung. 194, 1953.

Lersch C et al., Nonspecific immunostimulation with low doses of cyclophosphamide (LDCY), thymostimulin, and Echinacea purpurea extracts (echinacin) in patients with far advanced colorectal cancers: preliminary results. Cancer Invest, 1992, 10:5, 343-8.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Luettig B et al., Macrophage activation by the polysaccharide arabinogalactan isolated from plant cell cultures of Echinacea purpurea. J Natl Cancer Inst, 1989 May 3, 81:9, 669-75.

Martin, E. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Co., Phila.

Melchart, D et al., (1995), Results of five randomized studies on the immunomodulatory activity of preparations of echinacea, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1, no. 2: 145-60.

Mengs U et al., Toxicity of Echinacea purpurea. Acute, subacute and genotoxicity studies. Arzneimittelforschung, 1991 Oct, 41:10, 1076-81.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Orinda D et al., [Antiviral activity of components of Echinacea purpurea] Arzneimittelforschung, 1973 Aug, 23:8, 1119-20.

Paranich, AV et al., [Effect of supposed radioprotectors on oxidation-reduction of vitamin E in the tissues of irradiated rats.] Radiats Biol. Radioecol. 1993, 33(5):653.

Quadripur, S.A., Therapie Der Gegenwart, 115, 1072, 1976.

Riesterer & Jaques. 1968. Interference by beta-adrenergic blocking agents with antiinflammatory action of various drugs. Helv Phy Acta, 26. p.287

Samochowiec E; Urba; Maeka W; Stolarska E[Evaluation of the effect of Calendula officinalis and Echinacea angustifolia extracts of Trichomonas vaginalis in vitro] Wiad Parazytol, 1979, 25:1, 77-81.

Schumacher A & Friedberg KD[The effect of Echinacea angustifolia on non-specific cellular immunity in the mouse] Arzneimittelforschung, 1991 Feb, 41:2, 141-7.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983

See DM et al., 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 Jan, 35:3, 229-35.

S?cha J et al., [Substances in the Echinaceae family which are potential antiviral agents and immunostimulants]. Cesk Farm, 1989 Nov, 38:9, 424-8.

Steinm?ller C et al: Polysaccharides isolated from plant cell cultures of Echinacea purpurea enhance the resistance of immunosuppressed mice against systemic infections with Candida albicans and Listeria monocytogenes. Int J Immunopharmacol, 1993 Jul, 15:5, 605-14.

Stimpel, M., A. Proksch, H. Wagner & M. Lohmann-matthes. Macrophage activation and induction of macrophage cytotoxicity by purified polysaccharide fractions from the plant echinacea purpurea. Infection And Immunity. 46(3), 845-849, 1984.

Stoll, A., A. Renz & A. Brack. Antibacterial substances II. Isolation and constitution of echinacoside, a glycoside from the roots of echinacea augustifolia. Helvetic Chimica Acta, 33, 1877-1893, 1950.

Stuart, D.M. 1968. Drug metabolism Part 2. Drug interactions. PharmIndex, 10(10). pp. 4-16.

Tragini, E., A. Tubaro, S. Melis & L. Galli. Evidence from two classic irritation tests for an anti-inflammatory action of a natural extract, echinacina B. Food And Chem Toxic, 23(2), 317-319, 1985.

Tubaro, A et al., Anti-inflammatory activity of a polysaccharidic fraction of Echinacea angustifolia. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1987, 39(7):567.

Tuennerhoff, F.K. & H.K. Schwabe. Untersuchungen am menschen und am`wier ueber den einfluss von echinacea-konzentraten auf die kuenstliche bindergewebsbildung nach fibrin-implantationen. Arzneimittel-forschung, 6(6), 330-334, 1956.

Voaden, D.J. & M. Jacobson. Tumor-inhibitors III. Identification and synthesis of an oncolytic hydrocarbon from american coneflower roots. Journal Of Medicinal Chemistry, 15(6), 619-623, 1972.

Wacker, A. & A. Hilbig. Virus inhibition by echinacea purpurea. Planta Medica, 33, 89-102, 1978.

Wagner, H. & A. Proksch. Isolation of polysaccharides with immuno-stimulating activity from echinacea purpurea. International Conference Chem. Biotechnil. Biol. Act. Nat. Prod. (Proceedings). B. Atanasova. ed., 3(1), 200-202, 1981.

Wildfeuer A & Mayerhofer D[The effects of plant preparations on cellular functions in body defense] Arzneimittelforschung, 1994 Mar, 44:3, 361-6.

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