ECHINACEA

Alkaloids, Amides, Carbohydrates, Glycosides, Terpenoids, Other constituents

Pharmacological Actions

Immunostimulant activity has been associated with polysaccharide and polyacetylene fractions (FSF and PCF. respectively).

In-vitro antiviral activity has been described for alcoholic and aqueous echinacea extracts. Incubation of mouse cells with the extracts was stated to result in 24 hour resistance to influenza, herpes and vesicular (pox) viruses.

The isolated PSF was stated to be twice as active as the total aqueous extract.

Echinacea is stated to have some cortisone-like activity. Human studies. Echinacea has been used for its non-specific action on cell-mediated immunity: A single 2ml subcutaneous injection (stated as equivalent to 0.1g of press sap) followed by a free interval of one week was reported to stimulate cell-mediated immunity. Whereas daily administration of the injection was stated to have a depressant effect on cell-mediated immunity.

Pharmaceutical Comment

The chemistry of echinacea is well documented. E. angustifolia and E. pallida are described under the same monograph heading in the BHP 1983, although it has been proposed that the two species are in fact chemically dissimilar. E. purpurea and E. angustifolia both contain amides as their major lipophilic constituents, but of differing structural types.

The polyene components are stated to be susceptible to auto-oxidation resulting in the formation of artefacts during storage. It has therefore been recommended that the roots should be stored full-size and that extracts should be kept in solution.

In view of the lack of toxicity data, excessive use of echinacea should be avoided.

From:- HERBAL MEDICINES - A GUIDE FOR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS THE PHARMACEUTICAL PRESS 1996

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