GHENT, NY & ROGGWIL, SWITZERLAND – Bioforce AG announced that its researchers Andy Suter and Roland Schoop and other scientists presented new Echinacea research at the 55th International Congress & Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant Research in Graz, Austria September 2 through 6, 2007.
At the conference, the scientists discussed the latest in vivo trial results demonstrating the mechanism of Echinacea purpurea alkylamides in acting as a prophylactic against the cold virus, along with previous recent research supporting its effective use in supporting the immune system against cold virus symptoms.
Several studies of the studies presented have used the freshly harvested Echinacea purpurea preparation made by Bioforce AG, the basic manufacture of which has remained relatively unchanged for more than 50 years, and which thus has a long history of use among the general European population as well as high familiarity among the medical community.
Research Presentation Summary
Mode of action of Echinacea deciphered
Research has identified alkylamides as important active ingredients in Echinacea, as well as their mode of action in vitro and in vivo. The substances latch on to the immune cell’s endocannabinoid receptors and thereby activate the immune system. Dr. Jürg Gertsch from ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) discovered this mechanism more than two years ago and is now concentrating his research on the product Echinaforce® from A.Vogel. The mixture used here, composed of 5% root and 95% stem, leaves and flowers, has proven to be efficacious in numerous comparative studies.
Prevention and treatment of colds
A meta-analysis of all in-vivo clinical research studies regarding the mode of action, prevention and treatment of colds with Echinacea are showing a new picture: those who took Echinacea as a prophylactic treatment had, during the cold season, more than 50% less risk of catching a cold compared to those who did not take Echinacea. Products with alcohol extracts of Echinacea have shown better results compared to, for example, juices. This analysis was presented by Karin Woelkart, from the Institute for Pharmacological Science, Karl Franzens University in Graz.
Anti-bacterial action of Echinacea proven
Prof. JB Hudson of the British Columbia University in Vancouver has now extensively scientifically examined the theory that Echinacea may be anti-bacterial. For this, tests were performed with six different Echinacea extracts and 15 different bacteria strains. The most efficacy was seen with a mixture of Echinacea herba (aerial parts) and root, which have the highest concentration of alkylamides. Echinacea showed particularly good efficacy in its action on three bacterial strains that are responsible for upper respiratory infections. Complementary to immune system support, bacteria are inhibited or killed.
No Side Effects
Even with the usage of plant medicines, the question of side effects must be addressed. Scientists from the School of Pharmacy at the University of London have examined the influence of Echinacea on the P450 enzymes that are responsible for detoxification in the body. Should these enzymes be adversely stimulated or blocked, negative effects on metabolism can be observed. Investigation has shown that Echinacea has a minimal effect on the relevant enzymes, and is thus not clinically relevant. Should Echinacea products be taken as recommended, no side effects due to too strongly blocked P450 are to be expected.
“The Echinacea presentation at the 55th International Congress & Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant Research completely validates the consumer use of Echinacea as an effective immune support supplement during cold season,” says Eileen Sheets, managing director of Bioforce USA. “This is good news for the dietary supplement industry as it successfully ‘recovers’ from the toxic shot in the arm of the negative study published in 2005.”
For more information about the studies, or to discuss the role of Echinacea and Echinaforce in vivo, email Roland Schoop at [email protected].