II. Epidemiology

  1. Use is popular in Germany

III. Indications (Purported benefits)

  1. Systemic use
    1. Immunostimulant for preventing and treating infection
  2. Topical use
    1. Stings and bites
    2. Wounds including Burn Injury
    3. Inflammation

IV. Efficacy

  1. Variable results in studies with some effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infection
    1. May be effective in Common Cold
    2. Decreases Common Cold symptom duration
    3. May have slight benefit in preventing the Common Cold
  2. Some studies suggest no benefit in Common Cold
    1. Barrett (2002) Ann Intern Med 137:939-46 [PubMed]
    2. Yale (2004) Arch Intern Med 164:1237-41 [PubMed]

V. Mechanism

  1. Echinacea genus is closely related to sunflowers and ragweed
  2. Increases Phagocytosis
  3. Increases lymphocytic activity
  4. Increases activity against tumor cells
  5. No known bactericidal or bacteriostatic properties

VI. Dosing

  1. Echinacea 300 mg orally three times daily

VII. Contraindications

  1. Daisy Allergy
  2. Progressive autoimmune or systemic disease
    1. Acquired Immune Deficiency (AIDS)
    2. Tuberculosis
    3. Rheumatoid Arthritis
    4. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
    5. Multiple Sclerosis

VIII. Adverse Effects

  1. Immunosuppression may occur with prolonged use
    1. Opportunistic infections
    2. Impaired Wound Healing
  2. Hepatotoxicity risk with prolonged use

IX. Safety

  1. Some experts recommend limiting to under 8 successive weeks
  2. Unknown safety in pregnancy (limit to <7 days if used)
  3. Unknown safety in Lactation

X. Drug Interactions

  1. CYP1A2 and CYP3A4
    1. May affect drug levels of these P450 metabolized agents, even with shortterm Echinacea use

XI. References

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