HUDSON, NY – Bioforce USA, one of the nation’s premier suppliers of wholesome natural products, has announced that Swiss researchers have discovered the mechanism of action of Echinaforce, an echinacea product manufactured by A. Vogel, based in Switzerland.
“Because of the difficulties involved when testing Echinacea in a complex system like the human body, the researchers decided to focus on activity and response of single immune cells when introduced to Echinaforce and a subsequent infectious particle,” explains Eileen Sheets, director of scientific and regulatory affairs for Bioforce USA.
An immune cell receptor that intercepts and traps an invading particle sends the message to produce several soluble biochemicals, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), which essentially emits a clarion call to other immune cells to gather at the site of invasion to attempt to destroy the interloper. Too much TNF-a in the system, however, can lead to dramatic elevations of inflammation.
In the experiment, a foreign agent, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), was added to healthy donor immune cells that had been incubated with Echinaforce, to imitate the situation when Echinaforce has been ingested prior to the body being challenged by an infectious particle. Within the first 21 hours, Echinaforce was shown to even out the effect mediated by LPS but compensated through a more persistent and smoother production of TNF-a. They also found that Echinaforce alone did not produce any TNF-a when no particles are present.
Echinaforce was shown to act as an immunomodulator by reducing possible adverse effects of excessive TNF-a production, yet also being able to activate immune cells more gently and persistently when infectious threat exists.
Researchers wanted to illuminate the pathways of activity inside an immune cell that absorbed Echinaforce, and how the cell was induced to modulate TNF-a expression at the infection site. They focused on the two major active substances within Echinaforce – alkylamides and cichoric acid – the so-called immune boosters. These two substances were incubated with immune cells. It was found that the alkylamides exerted a clear effect, but not the cichoric acid.
The researchers then focused on how the alkylamides were able to change the response of the immune cells to infection. This was based on the alkylamides’ structural similarity to another known TNF-a modular, endocannabinoid, whose mechanism of action is well understood. Endocannabinoids bind to CB-2 receptors located on the surfaces of the cells. When these receptors recognize changes in their surroundings, several events are initiated in the cells, leading to the change in production of TNF-a and associated proteins.
The researchers then extended the experiment by co-incubating Echinaforce-pretreated and LPS-stimulated immune cells with a substance that blocks the binding and thereby the action of alkylamides on the CB-2 receptor. By capping the CB-2 receptor, it was shown that the4 ability of Echinaforce to influence the production of TNF-a could be switched off.
Explains Sheets, “The alcohol extract of fresh Echinacea purpurea plants (Echinaforce) was discovered to have an influence on the reactivity of immune cells challenged with infectious particles. To our knowledge, these Swiss scientists are the first to uncover such pathways for the constituents comprising Echinaforce. What this means is that this botanical is a viable addition to any person’s health regimen, especially for seasonal concerns.”
She adds, “This study is extremely important in illuminating the fact that echinacea does not affect the immune system until there is a reason to mount a defense such as bacterial or viral contact. This is important because it shows Echinacea can effectively and safely be used as a preventative supplement for overall health during times of excessive stress and bacterial or viral invasion.”