Food Supplements and Vitamins. Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea)

Echinacea-julia11-137

Background

 Echinacea species are perennials that belong to the Asteraceae (aster) family and originated in eastern North America. Traditionally used for a range of infections and cancers, the roots and herb (above ground parts) of Echinacea species have attracted scientific interest for their reported use in enhancing the immune system.

Natural medicine experts frequently recommend oral extracts of echinacea for the treatment of the common cold and for other conditions requiring immune stimulation. It is occasionally recommended for topical treatment of wounds.

Traditionally, echinacea roots and herbs were used by indigenous Americans for a wide variety of conditions, ranging from snakebites to cancers. Echinacea does not have U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) status.

Echinacea was adopted by central U.S. settlers in the 1800s. However, after the introduction of antibiotics, echinacea use fell out of favor. Echinacea’s historical use as a treatment for infections has found renewed interest due to recent rises in antibiotic resistance and the limitations of available antiviral drugs.

 Dosing

 NB! The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For cancer, 300 milligrams of cyclophosphamide per square meter has been given intravenously every 28 days, followed by 60 milligrams of Echinacin® per square meter and 30 milligrams of thymostimulin per square meter given intramuscularly on days 3-10 after cyclophosphamide and then twice weekly.
  • For genital herpes, a dose of 800 milligrams of echinacea extract has been taken by mouth twice daily for six months
  • For upper respiratory infection or common cold prevention, a 1.5 milliliter tincture containing the equivalent of 300 milligrams of Echinacea angustifolia root has been taken by mouth three times daily in a clinical trial either for a seven-day course prior to experimental infection, or for five days after infection. Echinacea (2.5 milliliters) has been taken by mouth three times daily for seven days before and after viral inoculation in a clinical trial. A dose of four milliliters of Echinacea purpurea juice has been taken by mouth twice daily for eight weeks. Three 300-milligram Echinacea purpurea capsules have been taken by mouth twice daily for eight weeks. Echinaforce® Forte (dose and frequency unclear) has also been taken by mouth in a clinical trial.
  • For upper respiratory infection or common cold treatment, the dose recommended most often by experts is 500-1,000 milligrams by mouth three times daily for 5-7 days. Total daily doses of 900 milligrams and 450 milligrams have been taken by mouth. The recommended dose of expressed juice is 6-9 milliliters daily in divided doses for 5-7 days, according to most experts. The recommended tincture dosage is 0.75-1.5 milliliters, gargled then swallowed, 2-5 times daily for 5-7 days. The recommended dose ofEchinacea tea is typically two teaspoons (four grams) of coarsely powdered herb simmered in one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes, daily for 5-7 days, according to most experts.
  • Various doses have been used in clinical trials. Eight doses of five milliliters of Echinacea purpurea extract (Echinilin®) diluted with half a glass of water have been taken by mouth on day 1, followed by three doses on days 2-7. Echinaforce® (6.78 milligrams of Echinacea purpurea crude extract) and a 7X concentration (48.27 milligrams) have been taken by mouth. Twenty drops of Echinaguard® (squeezed sap of Echinacea purpurea ) in water have been taken by mouth every two hours for the first day and then three times daily, for up to a total of 10 days. Echinacea pallida radix (90 drops) has been taken by mouth over 8-10 days, but it was unclear whether one or several doses were taken. Five to six cups of “Echinacea Plus®” tea (equivalent of 1.275 milligrams of dried herb and root per tea bag) have been taken by mouth on day 1 and decreased by one cup daily for the next five days. Pascotox® ( Echinacea pallida radix) (900 milligrams daily) has been taken by mouth for 8-10 days. Echinacea purpurea radix (450 or 900 milligrams of a 50% ethanolic extract) has been taken by mouth daily. One milliliter of extract from the root of Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea in 30% alcohol has been taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks. Pressed juice of Echinacea purpurea (Echinacin® EC31) has been taken by mouth for 28 days. An encapsulated mixture of unrefined Echinacea purpurea herb (25%) and root (25%) plus Echinacea angustifolia root (50%) has been taken by mouth. A dose of one gram of Echinacea has been taken by mouth six times on the first day of symptoms, then three times daily on each additional day of illness, for as long as 10 days.
  • For wound or ulcer healing, the dose recommended most often by experts is 15% pressed herb (nonroot) juice applied to the affected area daily.
  • For uveitis, 150 milligrams of Echinacea purpurea has been taken by mouth twice daily, and the follow-up duration was nine months.
Injectable preparations of echinacea are no longer approved for use in Germany and are generally not available commercially. Severe reactions have been reported following injection.

Children (under 18 years old)

Note : In a study of echinacea for the treatment of cold symptoms in children ages 2-11, an increased incidence of rash was reported.

There is no proven safe or effective dose for echinacea in children.

For otitis media (ear infection), an alcohol extract of Echinacea purpurearoots and seeds has been taken by mouth for 10 days at the first sign of a common cold.

  • For upper respiratory infection or common cold prevention, a 1.5 milliliter tincture containing the equivalent of 300 milligrams of Echinacea angustifolia root has been taken by mouth three times daily in a clinical trial either for a seven-day course prior to experimental infection, or for five days after infection. Echinacea (2.5 milliliters) has been taken by mouth three times daily for seven days before and after viral inoculation in a clinical trial. A dose of four milliliters of Echinacea purpurea juice has been taken by mouth twice daily for eight weeks. Three 300-milligram Echinacea purpurea capsules have been taken by mouth twice daily for eight weeks. Echinaforce® Forte (dose and frequency unclear) has also been taken by mouth in a clinical trial.
  • For whooping cough, 1-2 milliliters of squeezed aqueous extract (0.1 grams per two milliliters) has been given intramuscularly twice daily for 3-21 days. Parenteral preparations of echinacea are no longer approved for use in Germany.

 

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