NCCAM Revises Report of Echinacea Study, Notes Criticism of Low Dose

(Silver Spring, MD, October 12, 2005) -- The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has revised its website to correct erroneous statements it had made previously about a study on low-dose preparations of Echinacea angustifolia root published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 28, 2005. The revisions were made only one week after the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) requested such corrections in a letter dated October 4, 2005, to Stephen Straus, MD, NCCAM’s director.

“It is satisfying to think that someone at NCCAM actually listened to our well-reasoned arguments,” commented AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “We have also requested that NCCAM now make some effort to broadcast this corrected message widely, so that the misinformation that was so broadly distributed in July might be clarified.”

A particular grievance voiced in AHPA’s letter to Straus identified as “a gratuitous criticism” NCCAM’s statement about herbal products, specifically, “… what's on the label may not always be what's in the bottle.” That statement has now been removed.

AHPA’s letter also discussed comments that had been attributed to Dr. Straus in numerous media reports, some of which appeared to defend the researchers selection of the low dose (900 mg per day) of Echinacea angustifolia root used in the study, and others which dismissed all echinacea products as ineffective, regardless of dose or species. The revised page on the NCCAM site addresses both of these complaints. For example, a new sentence has been added to acknowledge that “critics of this study believe the dose of E. angustifolia used was too low,” and a concluding sentence on the lack of efficacy found in this research is now careful to identify these findings in the context of “preparations of E. angustifolia at the 900 mg per day dose.” In addition, the revised NCCAM review has completely removed an extensive commentary by Dr. Straus, in which he described the recent study as “well-designed” and the low-dose used as “internationally recognized.”

“AHPA will continue to monitor communications about herbs and supplements made by NCCAM and other federal offices,” added McGuffin. “It is essential that all such communications are factual and do not mislead the public.”

AHPA’s October 4 letter to Dr. Straus is available online at the AHPA website, at The current revision of NCCAM’s review of the recent low-dose Echinacea angustifolia root study can be accessed at


The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal supplement industry, the only trade association devoted solely to herbal issues. AHPA is the recognized leader in representing the responsible center of the botanical trade, and is comprised of the finest growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbal products. AHPA’s mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. AHPA committees generate self-regulations to ensure the highest level of responsibility with respect to the way herbs are manufactured, labeled and sold. Website:

Karen Robin, Director of Communications
Telephone: (301) 588-1171, x-107

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