Echinacea – Narrow-leaved coneflower root (Echinaceae angustifoliae radix)

Latin name of the genus:Echinacea
Latin name of herbal substance:Echinaceae angustifoliae radix
Botanical name of plant:Echinacea angustifolia dc.
English common name of herbal substance:Narrow-leaved coneflower root
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Latin name of the genus: Echinacea
Latin name of herbal substance: Echinaceae angustifoliae radix
Botanical name of plant: Echinacea angustifolia DC.
English common name of herbal substance: Narrow-leaved coneflower root

Echinacea - Narrow-leaved coneflower root - Echinacea angustifolia DC.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1. Description of the herbal substance(s), herbal preparation(s) or combinations thereof

Herbal substance(s)

Echinaceae angustifoliae radix (European Pharmacopoeia monograph ref.: 01/2008:1821)

Echinaceae angustifoliae radix consists of the whole or cut, dried underground parts of Echinacea angustifolia DC. It contains not less than 0.5% of echinacoside (C35H46O20; Mr 786.5).

Constituents (Barnes et al. 2005, Barnes et al. 2007, Bauer et al. 1988b & 1989a, Bradley 2006, Cozzolino et al. 2006, Liersch & Bauer 1993, Mazza & Cottrell 1999, Perry et al. 2001, Wolters Kluwer Health 2004):

Alkamides (0.5%): mainly isobutylamides or 2-methylbutylamides of straight-chain fatty-acids with olefinic and/or acetylenic bonds e.g. isomeric dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10E/Z-tetraenoic isobutylamide. Undeca-2Z,4E-diene-8,10-diynoic acid isobutylamide is also prominent. Isobutylamides contain mainly 2-monoene units;

Caffeic acid derivatives (1.0-1.4%): principally echinacoside (0.5-1.3%) with modest amounts of cynarin (0.12-0.14%), chlorogenic and cichoric acids;

Polysaccharides and glycoproteins: two polysaccharides of molecular weight of 128 and

4.5 kDa, three glycoproteins of molecular weight of 17, 21 and 30 kDa, containing about 3% of protein, the dominant sugars were found to be arabinose (64-84%), galactose (2-5%) and glucosamine (6%). Fructans are also present;

Volatile oil (0.1%): dodeca-2,4-diene-1-yl isovalerate, 8Z-pentadecene-2-one, pentadeca- 1,8Z-diene, palmitinic acid, linolenic acid;

Other constituents: saturated pyrrolizidine-type alkaloids tussilagine and isotussilagine (0.006%), phytomelanin, small amounts of polyacetylenic compounds (other than alkamides).

Herbal preparation(s)

Herbal substance, powdered; comminuted herbal substance for decoctions and galenic preparations (Gruenwald et al. 2007, Blumenthal et al. 2000, ESCOP 2009);

Dry extract (DER 1.7-4.7:1), extraction solvent: ethanol 70% (V/V); Tincture (1:5), extraction solvent: ethanol 70% (V/V).

Combinations of herbal substance(s) and/or herbal preparation(s) including a description of vitamin(s) and/or mineral(s) as ingredients of traditional combination herbal medicinal products assessed, where applicable.

Not applicable.

Caffeic acid derivatives

with sugar









1.2. Information about products on the market in the Member States

Herbal substance, powdered


Preparations: herbal substance, powdered, (250 mg of herbal substance/capsule)

Preparation on the market: since 1990 (criteria for 30 years is not fulfilled)

Pharmaceutical form: capsule, hard

Dry extracts


Preparations: dry extract (DER 1.7-4.7:1) ethanol 70% (V/V); 100 mg of extract/capsule, equivalent to 170-470 mg of the herbal substance

Preparation on the market: since 2005 (criteria for 30 years is not fulfilled)

Pharmaceutical form: capsule, hard

Liquid extracts and tinctures


Preparations: tincture (1:5) ethanol 70% (V/V).

Preparation on the market: since 2002 (criteria for 30 years is not fulfilled)

Pharmaceutical form: tincture


Preparations: 33.30 g liquid extract of Echinacea angustifolia radix (mother tincture according to HAB 2000); extraction solvent: ethanol 86% (m/m)

DER= 2 : 1 in 100 g solution, ethanol 50% V/V)

Preparation on the market: since 1991 (criteria for 30 years is not fulfilled)

Pharmaceutical form: oral solution

Regulatory status overview

MA: Marketing Authorisation TRAD: Traditional Use Registration

Other TRAD: Other national Traditional systems of registration Other: If known, it should be specified or otherwise add ’Not Known’

This regulatory overview is not legally binding and does not necessarily reflect the legal status of the products in the MSs concerned.

1.3. Search and assessment methodology

Not specified.

2. Historical data on medicinal use

2.1. Information on period of medicinal use in the Community

Evidence on period of medicinal use in the European Union (EU):

Echinacea angustifolia roots were included in the 4th edition of USA National Formulary (National Formulary 1916).

The medical use of Echinacea angustifolia roots, mainly for treating upper respiratory tract infections and poisonous animal bites, was already reported at the end of 19th century (Felter 1898, Goss 1889, Kindscher 1989, Meyer 1887, Stevens 1898, Webster 1898), the first half of the 20th century (Ellingwood 1915, Fearn 1914, Felter & Lloyd 1905, Fyfe 1909, Gilmore 1919, Liebstein 1927, Lloyd 1904a, 1904b, 1917 & 1923, Kraemer & Sollenberger 1911, Niederkorn 1910, Smith 1928, Vestal & Schultes 1939) and the 2nd half of the 20th century (Hocking 1965). A hundred years of history regarding harvesting of the plant, marketing and medical use is documented (Flannery 1999, Price & Kindscher 2007).

2.2. Information on traditional/current indications and specified substances/preparations

Traditional indications for oral use of herbal teas, tincture and liquid extracts.

2.3. Specified strength/posology/route of administration/duration of use for relevant preparations and indications

Herbal substance

1 g by infusion or decoction three times daily (BHP 1974, Bradley 1992, Barnes et al. 2007) 1 g by infusion three times daily (Gruenwald et al. 2007)

1 g by infusion in 150 ml boiling water for at least 10 minutes, several times daily between meals (Liersch & Bauer 1993, Blumenthal et al. 2000)

Half of a tea spoon (1 tea spoon = 2.5 g) by infusion. Pour boiling water and filter after 10 min. Drink very hot, several times daily, between meals (Wichtl 2003)

Herbal substance, powdered

500 mg of herbal substance (in capsules); 2-3 times daily (information from Spain)

Indications: For the relief of early symptoms of common cold.

Herbal substance, comminuted

1 g of comminuted root, in 150 ml water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, three times daily (Blumenthal et al. 2000)

Indications: Traditionally used for the relief of cold symptoms.

Liquid extracts and tinctures

Tincture (1:5) ethanol 70% (V/V)

2-2.5 ml 2 times daily (BHP 1974)

After recovering, it is recommended to continue use until 8 weeks. In prophylaxis, use the same dose, the duration of use should not exceed 8 weeks. In children less than 12 years, should not be used without medical advice.

Indications: immunostimulant, antibacterial, antiviral, as an adjuvant in the treatment of common cold, influenza and fever; also for the stimulating the regeneration of tissue. As adjuvant in the treatment of furunculosis, septicaemia and similar infections; may be used in treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, laryngitis, tonsillitis, catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinus and viral infections; as well as in supportive treatment of weakened immune system


Contra-indications: hyperaesthesia to plants of the Asteraceae (Compositae); progressive systemic diseases (tuberculosis, sarcoidosis), autoimmune diseases (collagenoses, multiple sclerosis), HIV infection, AIDS, haematological diseases (agranulocytosis, leukemia); serious hepatic diseases; epilepsy

Pregnancy and lactation: Contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation.

Adverse effects: Allergic reactions, short-lived feverish reactions, headache.

Tincture (1:5 in 45% ethanol V/V)

2-5 ml three times daily (Bradley 1992, Blumenthal et al. 2000, Bradley 2006, Barnes et al. 2007)

1-2 ml three times daily (BHP 1974, BHP 1983, Barnes et al. 2007).

Tincture (1:5 in ethanol 55% V/V)

60 drops three times daily (ESCOP 2009)

Liquid extract (DER 1:11 in 30% ethanol V/V)

1 ml three times daily (ESCOP 2009)

Liquid extract (DER 1:1 in 45% ethanol V/V)

0.5-1 ml three times daily (Bradley 1992, Bradley 2006)

0.25-1 ml three times daily (BHP 1974, BHP 1983, Barnes et al. 2007)

The duration of treatment should not exceed eight weeks (Barnes et al. 2007, ESCOP 2009).

3. Non-Clinical Data

3.1. Overview of available pharmacological data regarding the herbal substance(s), herbal preparation(s) and relevant constituents thereof

Immunomodulatory activity

In vitro experiments

From water or alkaline-water extracts of Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench and angustifolia DC.,

Eupatorium cannabinum L. and -perfoliatum L., Chamomilla recutita (L.) (Rauscher), Calendula officinalis L., Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R.B., Achyrocline satureoides DC., Arnica montana L., Sabal serrulata Roem et Schult. and Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim. polysaccharide fractions with molecular weights in the range of 25 000 to 500 000 and higher have been isolated, which, according to granulocytes- and carbon clearance tests, showed significant immunostimulating activities. They stimulated the activity of mouse macrophages; this activation included enhanced secretion of interleukin-1 (IL-1). The isolated compounds belong to the group of water-soluble, acidic heteroglycanes. The linkages in the different polysaccharides do not represent a uniform structure type (Wagner et al. 1984).

An ethanolic extract of narrow-leaved coneflower root enhanced phagocytosis by 17% in the granulocyte smear test at a concentration of 10-3 mg/ml. Only lipophilic fractions from the ethanolic extract showed immunostimulatory activity (Bauer et al. 1989b).

A high molecular weight fraction (Mr >10,000 D) containing polysaccharides and glycoproteins from narrow-leaved coneflower root enhanced the proliferation of mouse spleen cells; stimulated the production of cytokines such as interferon (IFNα/β/γ) in spleen cell cultures, and IL-1, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) in mouse macrophage cultures; increased immunoglobulin M production and the number of antibody-producing cells, and increased NO production of macrophages (Beuscher et al. 1995).

Chemical investigation of the roots of Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinacea pallida yielded two new alkamides, identified by analysis of spectroscopic data and comparison with reported alkamides. The new compounds were dodeca-2Z,4E,10Z-trien-8-ynoic acid isobutylamide from Echinacea angustifolia and dodeca-2Z,4E-diene-8,10-diynoic acid isobutylamide from Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida. These two components, as well as previously identified alkamides, exerted inhibition on LPS-mediated activation of a murine macrophage line, RAW264.7. These data suggest that these alkamides may have anti-inflammatory activity (Chen et al. 2005).

With the increasing popularity of herbal medicines, many people make their own Echinacea extracts at home and storing them at refrigerator (4°C) temperatures. The hypothesis is that Echinacea extracts made using homemade methods change in immunomodulatory efficacy with storage at 4°C over a 4- day period. Three extract types (50% ethanol tincture, cold water infusion, hot water infusion) from 5 different species (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea sanguinea,

Echinacea tennesseensis) were prepared. Four in vitro immune assays (monocyte secretion of TNF-α, IL-10, and IL-12; peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation) using human blood were used to test extract efficacy at Day 1 and 4 post-extraction. Two statistical analyses, traditional ANOVA and several statistical models that account for endotoxin effects were used. Endotoxin was found to significantly impact immune outcomes only in 4-day old cold water infusions and not in all assays. Extracts showed the greatest stimulation in TNF-α assays. By extract type, 50% ethanol tinctures produced the most immune stimulation. By species, extracts from Echinacea angustifolia extracts were the most efficacious in the assays; extracts from Echinacea sanguinea showed the least activity overall (Senchina et al. 2005).

The effects of long-term (>1 year) dry storage on the capabilities of Echinacea spp. roots from mature individuals to modulate cytokine production are unknown. Using an older human adult model of influenza vaccination, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were collected from subjects 6 months post-vaccination and stimulated in vitro with the two Type A influenza viruses contained in the trivalent 2004-2005 vaccine with a 50% ethanolic tincture prepared from the roots of one of seven

Echinacea species: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea paradoxa, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea sanguinea, Echinacea simulata, and Echinacea tennesseensis. Before being processed into extracts, all roots had been stored under dry conditions for sixteen months. Cells were cultured for

48 h; following incubation, supernatants were collected and assayed for IL-2, IL-10, and IFN-γ production, cytokines important in the immune response to viral infection. Four species (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea simulata, Echinacea tennesseensis) augmented IL-10 production, diminished IL-2 production, and had no effect on IFN-γ production. Echinacea pallida suppressed production of all cytokines; Echinacea paradoxa and Echinacea sanguinea behaved similarly, although to a lesser extent. The results from these in vitro bioactivity assays indicate that dried Echinacea roots stored for sixteen months maintain cytokine-modulating capacities. The data support and extend previous research and indicate that tinctures from different Echinacea species have different patterns of immune modulation; further, they indicate that certain species may be efficacious in the immune response to viral infection (Senchina et al. 2006).

The immunomodulatory properties of Echinacea tinctures from seven species were investigated after being stored at -20°C for 2 years. Two experimental techniques were employed using human PBMC. In the first set of experiments PBMCs were stimulated in vitro with tinctures alone and assayed for proliferation and production of IL-10, IL-12, and TNF-α. In the second set of experiments, subjects were immunised with influenza vaccine. PBMCs from vaccinated individuals were stimulated in vitro with Echinacea tinctures and influenza virus; cytokine production (IL-2, IL-10, and IFN-γ was compared prevaccination and postvaccination. In the first experiments, (1) tinctures from Echinacea angustifolia,

Echinacea pallida, Echinacea paradoxa, and Echinacea tennesseensis stimulated proliferation and tended to increase IL-10, (2) Echinacea sanguinea and Echinacea simulata stimulated only proliferation, (3) Echinacea purpurea stimulated only IL-10, and (4) none of the extracts influenced IL- 12 or TNF-α. In the second experiments, (1) tinctures from Echinacea pallida, Echinacea paradoxa, Echinacea sanguinea, and Echinacea simulata diminished influenza-specific IL-2, and (2) none of the extracts influenced influenza-specific IL-10 or IFN-γ. For in vitro models using Echinacea, immune response may vary based on stimulus (Echinacea alone vs. Echinacea + recall stimulation with virus) (McCann et al. 2007).

The ability of Echinacea and its components to alter the immune response was examined in vitro in a macrophage cell line under either basal or immunostimulated conditions. Potential immunostimulatory and inflammatory activity was determined using a nuclear transcription factor (NFκB) expression, TNF- α and nitric oxide (NO) production as biomarkers. In the absence of alternate stimulation, the only significant effects seen were a decrease in NFκB expression by a 2-ene alkylamide ((2E)-N isobutylundeca-2-ene-8,10-diynamide (1)) and a decrease in TNF-α levels by cichoric acid and an Echinacea alkylamide fraction (EPL AA). When the cells were stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), inhibition of the increased NFκB expression levels was caused by cichoric acid, an Echinacea preparation, EPL AA and a 2,4-diene ((2E,4E,8Z,10Z)-N-isobutyldodeca-2,4,8,10-tetraenamide (2)). Increases in TNF-α levels were inhibited by cichoric acid, Echinacea preparation and EPL AA but enhanced by 1 in the presence of LPS, while only EPL AA was able to inhibit the stimulated increases in

NO. When using phorbol myristate acetate to stimulate the cells, NFκB and NO levels were unaffected by Echinacea or its components while only cichoric acid and (2) inhibited TNF-α levels. Although cichoric acid was found to have an effect, it is probably not an important contributor to the Echinacea modulation of the immune response in vivo, as it is not bioavailable. Echinacea appears to attenuate the response of macrophages to an immune stimulus and its combination of phytochemicals exhibit different pharmacological properties to one or more of the isolated major individual components (Matthias et al. 2007a).

The effects of Echinacea and several of its phytochemical components on NFκB expression by Jurkat cells (a human T-cell line) were investigated in vitro. In the absence of stimulation, Echinacea and its components exerted no significant effect on basal NFκB expression levels. In the presence of endotoxin (LPS), NFκB expression was decreased. However, this decrease was significantly reversed by treating with cichoric acid an Echinacea root extract (prepared from both Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea; 1:2 extraction solvent 60% ethanol) and the alkylamide fraction derived from this combination. For the phorbol myristate acetate stimulation of Jurkat cells, effects on NFκB expression were mixed. Depending on the concentration, cichoric acid and a 2,4-diene alkylamide significantly induced NFκB levels, whereas a 2-ene alkylamide caused a significant inhibition. In contrast, both the Echinacea and the mixed alkylamide fraction exerted no effect. The alkylamide results indicate that the two basic forms of these compounds present in Echinacea may have opposing effects. These opposing effects demonstrate the importance of knowledge, not only of the phytochemical make-up of a herbal preparation, but also of the actions of each component and the consequences of differing relative amounts in the preparation being investigated (Matthias et al. 2008).

Similarities and differences in immune response among Echinacea species, which are commonly used to treat upper respiratory infections were compared and investigated. The investigation involved two components: acquisition of immunomodulatory data reported for the first time, and combined phenetic analysis of these data along with previous reports. Experimental data were obtained by stimulating human PBMC in vitro with extracts from Echinacea spp. and assaying production of three cytokines IL- 1β, IL-2, and TNF-α). Phenetic analyses were employed to compare responses across the entire data set, including Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean and neighbour-joining methods. In the immune experiments conducted for this investigation, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea paradoxa,

Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea simulata, and Echinacea tennesseensis extracts significantly augmented IL-1β and TNF-α production, whereas no extracts significantly modulated IL-2. All phenetic methods produced similar dendrograms, revealing two species pairs (Echinacea angustifolia +

Echinacea simulata and Echinacea pallida + Echinacea sanguinea) where both species cluster tightly and have similar immune-response profiles. These two species-pairs are maximally dissimilar from each other. The remaining species (Echinacea paradoxa, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinacea tennesseensis) occupy intermediate positions in the dendrogram. The results suggest that Echinacea spp. act heterogeneously on immune function (Senchina et al. 2008).

In vivo experiments

A 2-fold increase in phagocytosis was demonstrated in the carbon clearance test in mice after oral administration of 10 ml/kg of a solution containing circa 5 mg of an ethanolic extract of narrow-leaved coneflower root (1:10, 90% ethanol V/V) in 30 ml of physiological saline, three times daily for 2 days. When chloroform and aqueous fractions of this extract were administered separately, only the lipophilic fraction proved to be active (Bauer et al. 1988a, Bauer et al. 1989b).

The activity of phagocytosis was tested in the in vitro granulocyte test and the in vivo carbon- clearance-test in the mouse for an extract combination consisting of four plant extracts (Echinacea angustifolia, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Baptisia tinctoria and Arnica montana). In both immune models, a step by step stimulation of the activity of phagocytosis by the addition of the four plant extracts was shown with an increase in effectiveness of partially over 50% in comparison to the pure Echinacea angustifolia mono-extract. The extract combination showed also in both test models a higher efficiency than two other differently composed combination preparations and two Echinacea mono-preparations (Wagner & Jurcic 1991).

A number of immunomodulatory effects have been attributed to the medicinal plants Echinacea angustifolia and Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis); however, little is known about whether treatment with these plants can enhance antigen-specific immunity. The antigen-specific in vivo immunomodulatory potential of continuous treatment with Echinacea and Goldenseal root extract was investigated over a period of 6 weeks using rats that were injected with the novel antigen keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and re-exposed to KLH after the initial exposure. Immunoglobulin production was monitored via ELISA continuously over a period of 6 weeks. The Echinacea-treated group showed a significant augmentation of their primary and secondary IgG response to the antigen, whereas the Goldenseal-treated group showed an increase in the primary IgM response during the first 2 weeks of treatment. These results suggest that medicinal plants like Echinacea or Goldenseal may enhance immune function by increasing antigen-specific immunoglobulin production (Rehman et al. 1999).

In contrast with the extensive body of research supporting the immunostimulatory effect of Echinacea preparations, some recent work has reported a lack of effect. No evidence of natural killer cell activity or antibody formation was found in studies involving rats fed various preparations of Echinacea, including an alcoholic extract of Echinacea purpurea root and an alcoholic extract of the roots of

Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida in their diet (South & Exon 2001).

Using male Sprague-Dawley rats (425–475 g), an in vivo study was conducted to examine the immunomodulatory effects of preparations of Echinacea containing its components cichoric acid, polysaccharides and alkylamides in different concentrations. The rats were gavaged orally with these preparations two times daily for 4 days. Phagocytic activity of alveolar macrophage was increased with increasing concentrations of the Echinacea components. A trend of increase in TNF-α and nitric oxide release by the alveolar macrophages following an in vitro stimulation with LPS was also evident. An enhanced release of cytokines (such as TNF-α and IFN-γ) in response to Echinacea components, was also apparent in rat’s spleen macrophage, but at higher concentrations. Among the components, alkylamides at the dose level of 12 mg/kg body weight/day significantly increased the phagocytic activity as well as phagocytic index of the alveolar macrophages. None of the components at any concentration had any effect on the release of TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL-2 by the splenocytes. These results suggest that the Echinacea preparations containing optimal concentrations of cichoric acid, polysaccharides and alkylamides are potentially effective in stimulating an in vivo, non-specific immune response in normal rats and that the alkylamides at a dose level of approximately 12 mg/kg body weight/day they effectively stimulate alveolar macrophage function in healthy rats. The

immunomodulatory effects of alkylamides appear to be more pronounced in lungs than in spleen (Goel et al. 2002a, Goel et al. 2002b).

A standardised hydroethanolic extract was obtained from Echinacea angustifolia roots containing echinacoside (>4%), the high molecular weight polysaccharide IDN 5405 (>5%) and an isobutylamide fraction (<0.1%). For in vitro tests, a bacterial LPS-free extract has been prepared in order to avoid non-specific responses of immunocompetent cells. The LPS-free extract enhanced the immune functions as highlighted by the proliferation rate and IFN-γ production in murine T-lymphocyte cell cultures stimulated by anti-CD3. The LPS-free extract did not have a direct role on macrophage response as measured in the nitric oxide production test using the J774 macrophage cells line. In vivo, the extract showed an immune stimulating activity by reducing the Candida albicans induced mortality both in normal and in cyclosporin A-treated mice (Morazzoni et al. 2005).

Antimicrobial activity

Extracts of narrow-leaved coneflower root exhibited near UV-mediated phototoxic and antifungal activity, measured by inhibition of the growth of Candida spp. and Saccharomyces cerevisiae; the activity was attributed primarily to ketoalkenes and ketoalkynes (Binns et al. 2000).

Antifungal activity was tested against Cryptococcus neoformans, two Candida albicans isolates (D10 and CN1A), Trychophyton tonsurans, T. mentagrophytes, Mycrosporum gypseum and Pseudallescheria boydii. Root extracts of eight Echinacea taxa, including Echinacea angustifolia showed antifungal activity against most of the pathogenic fungi (Merali et al. 2003).

Antiviral activity

A high molecular weight fraction (Mr >10,000 D) containing polysaccharides and glycoproteins from narrow-leaved coneflower root exhibited antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus and influenza virus (Beuscher et al. 1995).

A decoction and a 30% ethanolic extract of narrow-leaved coneflower root inhibited the propagation of ECHO9 Hill virus in monkey kidney cell cultures (Skwarek et al. 1996).

Extracts of 8 taxa of the genus Echinacea (including Echinacea angustifolia) were found to have antiviral activity against Herpes simplex (HSV) virus Type I in vitro when exposed to visible and UV-A light. n-Hexane extracts of roots containing alkenes and amides were more active in general than ethyl acetate extracts containing caffeic acids. The most potent inhibitors of HSV were Echinacea pallida var. sanguinea crude (70% ethanol) inflorescence extract (MIC = 0.026 mg/ml), cichoric acid (MIC = 0.045 mg/ml) and Echinacea purpurea n-hexane root extract (MIC = 0.12 mg/ml) (Binns et al. 2002).

Anti-inflammatory activity

An aqueous extract from Echinacea angustifolia root dose-dependently inhibited oedema in the croton oil ear test in mice., both at the maximum (6 h) and in the decreasing phase (18 h), with a potency greater than that of benzydamine (Tragni et al. 1985); the topical anti-inflammatory activity was attributed to high molecular weight polysaccharides (Tragni et al. 1988).

Polyunsaturated isobutylamides have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory activity in the 5- lipoxygenase (5-LOX) assay (Wagner et al. 1989, Müller-Jakic et al. 1994). The n-hexane extract of Echinacea angustifolia inhibited cyclooxygenase (62.4% inhibition at 50 g/ml) and 5-LOX (81.8% inhibition at 11.5 g/ml) (Wagner et al. 1989).

5-LOX -inhibiting activity of extracts of five wild and three commercially used species of the genus Echinacea were investigated to characterise the anti-inflammatory activity of Echinacea. The inhibition of the 5-LOX enzyme of the arachadonic acid pathway was determined by HPLC detection of a direct metabolic product of 5-LOX derived from stimulated rat basophilic cells. Root extracts of the three commercial species of Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida var. angustifolia, Echinacea pallida var. pallida) inhibited the 5-LOX enzyme (Merali et al. 2003).

The inhibition of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) production in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 mouse macrophage cells was assessed with an enzyme immunoassay following treatments with Echinacea extracts or synthesised alkamides. The results indicated that ethanol extracts diluted in media to a concentration of 15 g/ml from Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea simulata, and

Echinacea sanguinea significantly inhibited PGE(2) production. In further studies, PGE(2) production was significantly reduced by all synthesised alkamides assayed at 50 M, by Bauer alkamides 8, 12A analogue, and 14, Chen alkamide 2, and Chen alkamide 2 analogue at 25 M and by Bauer alkamide 14 at 10 M. Cytotoxicity did not play a role in the noted reduction of PGE(2) production in either the Echinacea extracts or synthesised alkamides. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis identified individual alkamides present at concentrations below 2.8 M in the extracts from the six Echinacea species (15 g/ml crude extract). Because active extracts contained <2.8 M of specific alkamide and the results showed that synthetic alkamides must have a minimum concentration of

10 M to inhibit PGE(2), it is likely that alkamides may contribute toward the anti-inflammatory activity of Echinacea in a synergistic or additive manner (LaLone et al. 2007).

During past years inhibition of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme has been proven as an effective strategy to suppress pain and inflammation. Based on this and other mechanistic findings, interest has also renewed in the molecular pathways underlying the anti-inflammatory effects of herbal drugs. The impact of several polyunsaturated alkamides isolated from a CO2 extract of the roots of Echinacea angustifolia DC. on both activity and expression of COX-2 was investigated. A 48-h treatment of H4 human neuroglioma cells with the CO2 extract led to a significant suppression of PGE(2) formation. Analysis of eight different alkamides revealed a contribution of undeca-2Z-ene-8,10-diynoic acid isobutylamide, dodeca-2E-ene-8,10-diynoic acid isobutylamide, and dodeca-2E,4Z-diene-8,10-diynoic acid 2-methylbutylamide to this response. Using an established short-term COX-2 activity assay, all three alkamides were shown to interfere with COX-2 activity. In contrast, none of the COX-2- suppressing not any other tested alkamide was found to inhibit COX-2 mRNA and protein expression. Instead, increased COX-2 mRNA and protein levels were registered in the presence of the CO2 extract and most of the analysed alkamides which caused, however, no stimulation of PG formation. Overall, results suggest that certain alkamides derived from Echinacea angustifolia roots may contribute to the pharmacological action of the herbal extract by inhibiting COX-2-dependent PGE(2) formation at sites of inflammation (Hinz et al. 2007).

Alcoholic extracts from three widely used Echinacea species, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea, were investigated for immunomodulating properties. The three Echinacea species demonstrated a broad difference in concentrations of individual lipophilic amides and hydrophilic caffeic acid derivatives. Mice were gavaged once a day (for 7 days) with one of the Echinacea extracts (130 mg/kg) or vehicle and immunised with sheep red blood cells 4 days prior to collection of immune cells for multiple immunological assays. The three herb extracts induced similar, but differential, changes in the percentage of immune cell populations and their biological functions, including increased percentages of CD49+ and CD19+ lymphocytes in spleen and natural killer cell cytotoxicity. Antibody response to sheep red blood cells was significantly increased equally by extracts of all three Echinacea species. Concanavalin A-stimulated splenocytes from Echinacea angustifolia– and Echinacea pallida-treated mice demonstrated significantly higher T cell proliferation. In addition, the

Echinacea treatment significantly altered the cytokine production by mitogen-stimulated splenic cells. The three herbal extracts significantly increased IFN-α production, but inhibited the release of tumour necrosis factor-gamma and IL-1β. Only Echinacea angustifolia– and Echinacea pallida-treated mice demonstrated significantly higher production of IL-4 and increased IL-10 production. Taken together, these findings demonstrated that Echinacea is a wide-spectrum immunomodulator that modulates both innate and adaptive immune responses. In particular, Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea pallida may have more anti-inflammatory potential (Zhai et al. 2007a).

It has been suggested that Echinacea has anti-inflammatory activity in vivo. Nitric oxide (NO), TNF-α, and IL-1β are important mediators in the inflammatory response. The effect of ethanolic extracts of

Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea purpurea on the production of these inflammatory mediators in both LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages in vitro and murine peritoneal exudate cells (PECs) in vivo were investigated. As macrophages produce these inflammatory mediators in response to pathogenic infection, parallel cultures of macrophages were studied for phagocytosis and intracellular killing of Salmonella enterica. Echinacea pallida and Echinacea purpurea in vitro inhibited NO production and TNF-α release in a dose-dependent manner. RAW 264.7 cells treated with

Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea showed decreased killing over 24 h, although Echinacea angustifolia enhanced bacterial phagocytosis. Upon bacterial infection, RAW 264.7 cells produce high levels of NO; however, an Echinacea-mediated decrease in NO production was observed. Echinacea ethanolic extracts administered orally at 130 mg/kg per day for 7 days had a weak effect on NO production and phagocytosis by LPS-stimulated PECs. The results indicated that all Echinacea species significantly decreased inflammatory mediators in vitro, however, only Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea reduced bacterial killing. Oral administration of Echinacea ethanolic extracts did not adversely affect the development and anti-bacterial function of inflammatory PECs in vivo; however, NO production was decreased during bacterial infection of PECs (Zhai et al. 2007b).

Antioxidant activity

The protective effect of caffeoyl derivatives (echinacoside, chlorogenic acid, chicoric acid, cynarine, and caffeic acid, typical constituents of Echinacea species) on the free radical-induced degradation of Type III collagen has been investigated. The macromolecule was exposed to a flux of oxygen radicals (superoxide anion and hydroxyl radical) generated by the xanthine/xanthine oxidase/Fe2+/EDTA system and its degradation assessed qualitatively by SDS-PAGE and quantitatively as the amount of soluble peptides (according to the 4-hydroxyproline method) released from native collagen after oxidative stress. The SDS-PAGE pattern of native collagen is markedly modified by free radical attack, with formation of a great number of peptide fragments with molecular masses below 97 kDa: in the presence of M concentrations of echinacoside, there is a complete recovery of the native profile. Collagen degradation was, in fact, dose-dependently inhibited by all the compounds, with the following order of potency: echinacoside approximately chicoric acid > cynarine approximately caffeic acid > chlorogenic acid, with IC50 ranging from 15 to 90 M. These results indicate that this representative class of polyphenols of Echinacea species protects collagen from free radical damage through a scavenging effect on reactive oxygen species and/or C-, N-, S-centered secondary radicals, and provide an indication for the topical use of extracts from Echinacea species for the prevention/treatment of photodamage of the skin by UVA/UVB radiation, in which oxidative stress plays a crucial role (Maffei Facino et al. 1995).

Methanol extracts of freeze-dried Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea) roots were examined for free radical scavenging capacities and antioxidant activities. Root extracts of Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea were capable of scavenging hydroxyl radical. Similar scavenging activities for each variety were found for both 1,1-

diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical and ABTS radical. Meanwhile, antioxidant activities of all three varieties of Echinacea were found to delay the formation of conjugated diene hydroperoxide induced by the thermal decomposition of 2,2′-azobis(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride and to extend the lag phase of peroxidation of soybean liposomes. Echinacea root extracts suppressed the oxidation of human low-density lipoprotein, as evaluated by reduced agarose electrophoretic mobility following oxidative modification by Cu2+. The mechanisms of antioxidant activity of extracts derived from Echinacea roots included free radical scavenging and transition metal chelating (Hu & Kitts 2000).

Alcoholic extracts of the roots and leaves of three Echinacea species (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida) were found to have antioxidant properties in a free radical scavenging assay and in a lipid peroxidation assay. Cichoric acid and verbascoside predominated in extracts of Echinacea purpurea (Sloley et al. 2001).

The radical scavenging activity of Echinacea methanolic extracts was evaluated in vitro with a spectrophotometric method based on the reduction of an alcoholic 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical solution at 517 nm in the presence of a hydrogen donating antioxidant. As for pure compounds, echinacoside had the highest capacity to quench DPPH radicals (EC50 = 6.6 M), while caftaric acid had the lowest (EC50 = 20.5 M). The average EC50 values for Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea angustifolia were 134, 167 and 231 g/ml respectively. The radical scavenging activity of Echinacea root extracts reflected their phenolic composition. The results indicate that Echinacea roots and derivatives are a good source of natural antioxidants and could be used to prevent free-radical-induced deleterious effects (Pellati et al. 2004).

Protective effect of echinacoside against free radicals was demonstrated in a study using oleic acid- induced acute lung injury in rats. The signals of free radicals in ECH-treated ALI rats were much lower than that of ECH-untreated at all time points. Echinacoside can clean out unstable free radicals, chelate the transition metal ions such as Fe, Cu and Zn to reduce the lipid peroxidation and stop the inflammatory cascade (Zhang et al. 2007).

Other activities

Serial dilutions of 21 commercial ethanolic herbal extracts and tinctures, and 13 related pure plant compounds have been analysed for their in vitro cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inhibitory capability via a fluorometric microtitre plate assay. Roughly 75% of the commercial products and 50% of the pure compounds showed significant inhibition of CYP3A4 metabolite formation. For each herbal product and pure compound exhibiting dose-dependency, the inhibition values were used to generate median inhibitory concentration (IC50) curves using linear regression. Among the commercial extracts,

Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort), and Uncaria tomentosa

(cat’s claw) had the lowest IC50 values at < 1% full strength, followed by Echinacea angustifolia roots,

Trifolium pratense (wild cherry), Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile) and Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice), which had IC50 values ranging from 1%-2% of full strength. Echinacea purpurea root extract showed moderate inhibitory activity (IC50 > 5% and < 10% full strength. Dillapiol, hypericin, and naringenin had the lowest IC50 values among the pure plant compounds at < 0.5 mM; dillapiol was the most potent inhibitor at 23.3 times the concentration of the positive CYP3A4 inhibitor ketoconazole (Budzinski et al. 2000).

Echinacea plant preparations are widely used in the prevention and treatment of common cold. However, so far no molecular mechanism of action has been proposed. The standardised tincture Echinaforce® was analysed and it was found that it induced de novo synthesis of TNF-α mRNA in primary human monocytes/macrophages, but not TNF-α protein. Moreover, LPS-stimulated TNF-α protein was potently inhibited in the early phase but prolonged in the late phase. A study of the main

constituents of the extract showed that the alkylamides dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10E/Z-tetraenoic acid isobutylamides, trienoic and dienoic acid derivatives are responsible for this effect. The upregulation of TNF-α mRNA was found to be mediated by CB2 receptors, increased cAMP, p38/MAPK and JNK signalling, as well as NF-jB and ATF-2/CREB-1 activation. The authors concluded that this study is the first to report a possible molecular mechanism of action of Echinacea, highlighting the role of alkylamides as potent immunomodulators and potential ligands for CB2 receptors (Gertsch et al. 2004).

It was shown that the alkylamides dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10Z-tetraenoic acid isobutylamide (A1) and dodeca-2E,4E-dienoic acid isobutylamide (A2) bind to the CB2 receptor more strongly than the endogenous cannabinoids. The Ki values of A1 and A2 (CB2~60 nM; CB1>1500 nM) were determined by displacement of the synthetic high affinity cannabinoid ligand [3H]CP-55,940. Molecular modelling suggests that alkylamides bind in the solvent-accessible cavity in CB2, directed by H-bonding and ππ interactions. In a screen with 49 other pharmacologically relevant receptors, it could be shown that A1 and A2 specifically bind to CB2 and CB1. A1 and A2 elevated total intracellular Ca2+ in CB2-positive but not in CB2-negative promyelocytic HL60 cells, an effect that was inhibited by the CB2 antagonist SR144528. At 50 nM A1, A2, and the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide (CB2 Ki > 200 nM) up- regulated constitutive IL-6 expression in human whole blood in a seemingly CB2-dependent manner. A1, A2, anandamide, the CB2 antagonist SR144528 (Ki <10 nM), and also the non-CB2-binding alkylamide undeca-2E-ene-8,10-diynoic acid isobutylamide all significantly inhibited LPS-induced TNF- α, IL-1β, and IL-12p70 expression (5–500 nM) in a CB2-independent manner. Alkylamides and anandamide also showed weak differential effects on anti-CD3- versus anti-CD28-stimulated cytokine expression in human whole blood. Overall, alkylamides, anandamide, and SR144528 potently inhibited LPS-induced inflammation in human whole blood and exerted modulatory effects on cytokine expression, but these effects are not exclusively related to CB2 binding (Raduner et al. 2006, Woelkart et al. 2005a, Woelkart & Bauer 2007).

The intake of Echinacea preparations is common among patients with advanced malignancies enrolled onto phase I chemotherapy trials; however, no data are available regarding the possible direct effect of Echinacea species on human cancer cells. The purpose of the study by Chicca was to investigate potential in vitro cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic properties of hexanic root extracts of the three medicinal

Echinacea (Asteraceae) species (Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt., Echinacea angustifolia DC. var. angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench) on the human pancreatic cancer MIA PaCa-2 and colon cancer COLO320 cell lines. It was demonstrated, for the first time, that all three species reduced cell viability in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. These results represent the starting point to establish viable scientific evidence on the possible role of Echinacea species in medical oncology (Chicca et al. 2007).

Recent studies showed that Echinacea angustifolia compounds and preparations interfere with doxorubicin chemotherapy. To investigate Echinacea interference with other chemotherapy agents, several Echinacea preparations, compounds and fractions of total extract (n-butanol, butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, dichloromethane (acidic and neutral), hexane, chicoric acid, and cynarine) from the Echinacea angustifolia plant were tested on cervical cancer (HeLa) and breast cancer (MCF-7) cell lines for anti-hyaluronidase activity and the interference of 5-fluorouracil. Other anti-cancer drugs such as melphalan, vinblastine and vincristine were tested on these cancer cell lines. Data indicated that the Echinacea preparations, compounds and extracts showed a significant ability to inhibit the activity of hyaluronidase and reduce the overall effect of chemotherapeutic agents in this study (Jensen & Halaweish 2006, Jensen et al. 2007).

The n-hexane root extracts from Echinacea pallida, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea were evaluated for inhibition of the multidrug transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp) activity, the product of

the ABCB1 gene, involved in cancer multidrug resistance and in herb-drug or drug-drug interactions. The biological assay was performed using the human proximal tubule HK-2 cell line that constitutively expresses ABCB1. The n-hexane extracts of all three species reduced the efflux of the Pgp probe calcein-AM from HK-2 cells two-fold in a concentration-dependent manner, and Echinacea pallida was found to be the most active species. For the first time, two polyacetylenes and three polyenes, isolated from the n-hexane extract of Echinacea pallida roots by a bioassay-guided fractionation, were found to be able to reduce Pgp activity. Pentadeca-(8Z,13Z)-dien-11-yn-2-one was the most efficient compound, being able to decrease the calcein-AM efflux about three-fold with respect to the control at 30 g/ml (Romiti et al. 2008).

A constituent of the root oil of Echinacea angustifolia DC. and Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Britt., inhibitory to Walker carcinosarcoma 256 and P-388 lymphocytic leukemia, was isolated and identified as (Z)-l,8- pentadecadiene. This compound occurs in these oils to the extent of approximately 44% and appears to be the first diene olefin reported to show in vivo antitumor activity. The corresponding trans isomer is less active (Voaden & Jacobson 1972).

The biological effect of Echinacea augustifolia extract on cell viability and cell differentiation was demonstrated in mammary epithelial cell lines. These effects have been observed in two different cell lines derived from mouse (HC11) and bovine (BME-UV). Echinacea extract enhanced cell liability from 100 to 1000 ng/ml in association with growth factors, epidermal growth factor (EGF) or insulin, but also without EGF (p<0.05) up to 37% vs. control. This effect may be modulated by MAPK and Akt activation that Echinacea extract treatment increased and/or by a reduction of caspase 3 enzymatic activity, showed a dose-response decrease after Echinacea treatment. Finally, Echinacea extract was able to increase (p<0.05) at 100 ng/ml milk protein beta-casein gene expression in association with prolactin (5 g/ml). These data demonstrate that Echinacea angustifolia extract can stimulate mammary epithelial cell physiology and may be considered a candidate to support mammary gland activity during a mammogenetic and lactogenetic state (Starvaggi Cucuzza et al. 2008).

The n-hexane extracts of the roots of three medicinally used Echinacea species exhibited cytotoxic activity on human cancer cell lines. Cytotoxic effects were assessed on human pancreatic MIA PaCa-2 and colonic COLO320 cancer cell lines. Cell viability was evaluated by the WST-1 assay and apoptotic cell death by the cytosolic internucleosomal DNA enrichment and the caspase 3/7 activity tests (Chicca et al. 2008).

3.2. Overview of available pharmacokinetic data regarding the herbal substance(s), herbal preparation(s) and relevant constituents thereof

Studies of transport of alkamides trough a cultured monolayer of colonic cells were performed on human adenocarcinoma colonic cell line Caco-2 (ATCC) as a model to assess the epithelial transport of dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10E/Z-tetraenoic acid isobutylamides. 30 minutes after apical loading of 25 g/ml, about 15% of these alkamides were detectable on the basolateral side. Close monitoring of the transport during 6 h revealed a nearly complete transport to the basolateral side after 4 h and no significant metabolism was observable. Transport experiments performed at 4oC showed only a slight decrease in transport, which is a strong hint that dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10E/Z-tetraenoic acid isobutylamides cross biological membranes by passive diffusion. Nearly the same results were obtained after preincubation of the Caco-2 cells with LPS or phorbol 12-myristate-13-acetate to mimic an inflammatory status. These results support the assumption that the alkamides can be easily transported from the intestine and hence may contribute to the in vivo effects of Echinacea preparations (Jager et al. 2002).

Transport of 12 alkamides and 5 caffeic acid conjugates from a proprietary preparation of Echinacea (Echinacea Premium Liquid®; MediHerb, Austria) which contains 60% ethanol/water extract of Echinacea angustifolia root (200 mg/ml) and Echinacea purpurea root (300 mg/ml) was studied on Caco-2 monolayers. Almost all of the caffeic acid conjugates permeated poorly through the Caco-2 monolayers: their uptake was no better than that of control (mannitol). By contrast, both 2,4-diene and 2-ene alkamides readily diffused through the monolayers. These findings suggest that alkamides would be bioavailable following oral administration (Matthias et al. 2004).

The metabolism by human liver microsomes of the alkylamide components from an Echinacea preparation as well as that of pure synthetic alkylamides was investigated. No significant degradation of alkylamides was evident in cytosolic fractions. Time- and NADPH-dependent degradation of alkylamides was observed in microsomal fractions suggesting they are metabolised by cytochrome P450 (CYP 450) enzymes in human liver. There was a difference in the susceptibility of 2-ene and 2,4- diene pure synthetic alkylamides to microsomal degradation with (2E)-N-isobutylundeca-2-ene-8,10- diynamide (1) metabolised to only a tenth the extent of (2E,4E,8Z,10Z)-N-isobutyldodeca-2,4,8,10- tetraenamide (3) under identical incubation conditions. Markedly less degradation of 3 was evident in the mixture of alkylamides present in an ethanolic Echinacea extract, suggesting that metabolism by liver P450s was dependent both on their chemistry and the combination present in the incubation. Co- incubation of 1 with 3 at equimolar concentrations resulted in a significant decrease in the metabolism of 3 by liver microsomes. This inhibition by 1, which has a terminal alkyne moiety, was found to be time- and concentration-dependent, and due to a mechanism-based inactivation of the P450s. Alkylamide metabolites were detected and found to be the predicted epoxidation, hydroxylation and dealkylation products. These findings suggest that Echinacea may affect the P450-mediated metabolism of other concurrently ingested pharmaceuticals (Matthias et al. 2005a).

3.3. Overview of available toxicological data regarding the herbal substance(s)/herbal preparation(s) and constituents thereof

In general, animal studies with different preparation and fractions of Echinacea species have indicated low toxicity (Barret 2003).

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids tussilagine and isotussilagine have a 1,2-saturated necine scaffold and therefore exhibit no hepatotoxic activity (Liersch & Bauer 1993).

Six major herbal references published from 1996 to 2000 were selected to evaluate the adequacy of their toxicological information in light of published adverse events. To identify herbs most relevant to toxicology, herbal-related calls were reviewed to regional California Poison Control System, San Francisco division (CPCS-SF) in 1998 and 12 herbs were identified (defined as botanical dietary supplements) most frequently involved in these CPCS-SF referrals. Medline was searched (1966 to 2000) to identify published reports of adverse effects potentially related to these same 12 herbs. Each herbal reference text was scored on the basis of information inclusiveness for the target 12 herbs, with a maximal overall score of 3. The herbs, identified on the basis of CPCS-SF call frequency were: St John’s wort, ma huang, Echinacea, guarana, ginkgo, ginseng, valerian, tea tree oil, goldenseal, arnica, yohimbe and kava kava. The overall herbal reference scores ranged from 2.2 to 0.4 (median 1.1). The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database received the highest overall score and was the most complete and useful reference source. All of the references, however, lacked sufficient information on management of herbal medicine overdose, and several had incorrect overdose management guidelines that could negatively impact patient care. The authors concluded that current herbal reference texts do not contain sufficient information for the assessment and management of adverse health effects of botanical therapies (Haller et al. 2002).

3.4. Overall conclusions on non-clinical data


For the extracts, fractions and isolated compounds of narrow-leaved coneflower root, immunomodulatory (purified polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides), antimicrobial, antiviral (fraction containing polysaccharides and glycoproteins), anti-inflammatory (polyunsaturated isobutylamides, echinacoside), antioxidant (caffeoyl derivatives), cytochrome enzyme inhibitory, cannabinoidomimetic (alkylamides), cell physiology stimulative (extract) and antitumour effects (Z)- 1,8-pentadecadiene) were proven in several in vitro and in vivo tests. However, most of the pharmacological mechanisms and active compounds responsible for the effects still remain to be elucidated.


In pharmacokinetic studies, only alkamides and caffeic acid conjugates were investigated. It was shown that alkamides (in contrast to caffeic acid conjugates) readily diffuse through the monolayers of Caco-2 cells. This supports the assumption that the alkamides can be easily transported from the intestine and hence may contribute to the in vivo effects of Echinacea preparations. Study of metabolism suggests that alkamides of Echinacea are metabolised by cytochrome P450 and may affect the P450-mediated metabolism of other concurrently ingested pharmaceuticals.


In general, the toxicity of Echinacea angustifolia is low. The data on narrow-leaved coneflower root toxicity are limited and findings are sometimes difficult to interpret since there is a lack of detail regarding the preparation of Echinacea angustifolia. Tests on reproductive toxicity, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity have not been performed.

4. Clinical Data

4.1. Clinical Pharmacology

4.1.1. Overview of pharmacodynamic data regarding the herbal substance(s)/preparation(s) including data on relevant constituents

Five placebo-controlled randomised studies investigating the immunomodulatory activity of preparations containing extracts of Echinacea in healthy volunteers were studied. A total of 134 (18 female and 116 male) healthy volunteers between 18 and 40 years of age were studied. Two studies tested intravenous homeopathic complex preparations containing Echinacea angustifolia D1 (study 1) and D4 (study 5). Two studies (2 and 3a) tested oral ethanolic extracts of roots of Echinacea purpurea, one study an extract of Echinacea pallida roots (study 3b), and one study an extract of Echinacea purpurea herb (study 4). Test and placebo preparations were applied for four (study 5) or five (studies 1-4) consecutive days. The primary outcome measure for immunomodulatory activity was the relative phagocytic activity of polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes (PNG), measured in studies 1 and 2 with a microscopic method and in studies 3, 4, and 5 with two different cytometric methods. The secondary outcome measure was the number of leukocytes in peripheral venous blood. Safety was assessed by a screening program of blood and other objective parameters as well as by documentation of all subjective side effects. In studies 1 and 2, the phagocytic activity of PNG was significantly enhanced compared with placebo [maximal stimulation 22.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 17.5-

27.9%) and 54.0% (8.4-99.6%), respectively], while in the other studies no significant effects were observed. Analysis of intragroup differences revealed significant changes in phagocytic activity during the observation periods in five test and three control groups. Leukocyte number was not influenced significantly in any study. Side effects due to the test preparations could not be detected. The studies provide evidence for immunomodulatory activity of the homeopathic combination tested in study 1 and the Echinacea purpureae radix extract tested in study 2. The negative results of the other 3 studies are difficult to interpret due to the different methods for measuring phagocytosis, the relevant changes in phagocytic activity within most placebo and treatment groups during the observation period, and the small sample sizes. The authors concluded that future studies should be performed on patients rather than healthy volunteers and use standardised or chemically defined monopreparations of Echinacea (Melchart et al. 1995).

The effect of Echinacea Premium® tablets (MediHerb, Warwick, Australia) containing 675 mg of Echinacea purpurea root extract and 600 mg of Echinacea angustifolia root extract, prepared by ethanol extraction on the expression of leucocyte heat shock protein 70 (hsp70), erythrocyte haemolysis, plasma antioxidant status, serum chemistry, haematological values and plasma alkylamide concentrations was tested. Eleven healthy individuals (26–61 years of age) were evaluated at baseline (day 1) and on day 15 after consuming two commercially blended Echinacea tablets daily for 14 days. Echinacea supplementation enhanced the fold increase in leucocyte hsp70 expression after a mild heat shock (P = 0.029). White cell counts (WCC) were also increased (P = 0.043). A preventative effect against free radical induced erythrocyte haemolysis (P = 0.006) indicative of an antioxidant effect was also observed. The pilot study suggests that Echinacea may invoke an immune response through altered expression of hsp70 and increased WCC (Agnew et al. 2005).

Assessor’s overall conclusions on pharmacodynamics

Increased phagocytosis was observed in one study on narrow-leaved coneflower root extract as a single ingredient, but a detailed composition of extracts is not available. In another study, a combination herbal product was investigated and it is difficult to interpret which plant was responsible for the effect (leucocyte hsp70 expression, increased WCC, preventative effect against free radical induced erythrocyte haemolysis, antioxidant effect).

4.1.2. Overview of pharmacokinetic data regarding the herbal substance(s)/preparation(s) including data on relevant constituents

Serial plasma samples from 9 healthy volunteers who ingested Echinacea tablets manufactured from ethanolic liquid extracts of Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea immediately after a standard high fat breakfast were examined. Caffeic acid conjugates could not be identified in any plasma sample at any time after tablet ingestion. Alkamides were rapidly absorbed and were measurable in plasma 20 minutes after tablet ingestion and remained detectable for up to 12 h. Concentration-time curves for 2,4-diene and 2-ene alkamides were determined. The maximal concentrations for the sum of alkamides in human plasma were reached within 2.3 h post ingestion and averaged 336 ± 131 ng eq/ml plasma. No obvious differences were observed in the pharmacokinetics of individual or total alkamides in 2 additional fasted subjects who took the same dose of the Echinacea preparation. This single dose study provides evidence that alkamides are orally available and that their pharmacokinetics are in agreement with the one dose three times daily regimen already recommended for Echinacea (Matthias et al. 2005b).

Many studies have been done over the years to assess the effectiveness of Echinacea as an immunomodulator. The potential bioavailability of alkyl- amides and caffeic acid conjugates was assessed using Caco-2 monolayers and compared to their actual bioavailability in a Phase I clinical

trial. The caffeic acid conjugates permeated poorly through the Caco-2 monolayers. Alkylamides were found to diffuse rapidly through Caco-2 monolayers. Differences in diffusion rates for each alkylamide correlated to structural variations, with saturation and N-terminal methylation contributing to decreases in diffusion rates. Alkylamide diffusion is not affected by the presence of other constituents and the results for a synthetic alkylamide were in line with those for alkylamides found in an ethanolic Echinacea preparation. The plasma from healthy volunteers was examined for 12 h after ingestion of Echinacea tablets manufactured from an ethanolic liquid extract. Caffeic acid conjugates could not be identified in any plasma sample at any time after tablet ingestion. Alkylamides were detected in plasma 20 minutes after tablet ingestion and for each alkylamide, pharmacokinetic profiles were devised. The data are consistent with the dosing regimen of one tablet three times daily and supports their usage as the primary markers for quality Echinacea preparations (Matthias et al. 2005c).

Six alkamides have been isolated from the roots of Echinacea angustifolia as major lipophilic constituents and have been investigated regarding their pharmacokinetics. A sensitive and specific method has been developed for the identification and quantification of these alkamides in human plasma using liquid chromatography electrospray ionization ion-trap mass spectrometry. The method was applied to analyse plasma samples obtained from a randomised, open, single-dose, cross-over study after oral administration of a 60% ethanolic extract from the roots of Echinacea angustifolia to 11 healthy subjects. The maximum concentration of dodeca-2E,4E,8Z,10E/Z-tetraenoic acid isobutylamides, the main alkamides in the roots of Echinacea angustifolia, appeared already after 30 minutes and was 10.88 ng/ml for the 2.5 ml dose (Woelkart et al. 2005b).

The relative oral bioavailability of alkylamides from two different Echinacea dosage forms (liquid and tablet) were compared in a small two-way cross-over study in humans (n = 3). The liquid preparation investigated contained a mixture of Echinacea purpurea root (300 mg/ml) and Echinacea angustifolia root (200 mg/ml) extracted in 60% ethanol. The tablet preparation investigated was also a mixture of Echinacea purpurea root (675 mg/tablet) and Echinacea angustifolia root (600 mg/tablet), but was prepared from the dried 60% ethanolic extracts of these two Echinacea species. Alkylamides were found to be rapidly absorbed and measurable in plasma from both preparations. No significant differences in the tetraene alkylamide pharmacokinetic parameters for T1/2, AUCt-lin and Cmax in the two different preparations were found. Tmax increased from 20 minutes for the liquid to 30 minutes for the tablet, which is not unexpected as the tablet required time for disintegration before absorption could occur. These results suggested that there was no significant difference in the bioavailability of alkylamides from the liquid and tablet Echinacea formulations. Furthermore, the results also indicated that the absorption site and any alkylamide loss due to digestive processes were similar in both preparations (Matthias et al. 2007b).

Assessor’s overall conclusions on pharmacokinetics

Evidence were provided that alkamides are orally available from liquid extracts and tablets and that their pharmacokinetics is in agreement with the one dose three times daily regimen already recommended for Echinacea and there was no significant difference in the bioavailability of alkylamides from the liquid and tablet Echinacea formulations. In contrast, caffeic acid conjugates could not be identified in any plasma sample; therefore their oral bioavailability is questionable.

4.2. Clinical Efficacy

Several papers have been published reviewing studies of effects of Echinacea herbal products in clinical trials (Barnes et al. 2005, Barnes et al. 2007, Barret 2003, Basch et al. 2005, Bradley 2006, Islam & Carter 2005, Liersch & Bauer 1993, Linde et al. 2006, Melchart et al. 1994 & 2004, Melchart & Linde 1999, Schoop et al. 2006, Shah et al. 2007).

4.2.1. Dose response studies

No data available.

4.2.2. Clinical studies (case studies and clinical trials)

Echinacea angustifolia as a single ingredient

289 volunteers from four military establishments and one industrial plant participated in a double- blind, placebo-controlled study to investigate the efficacy of Echinacea extracts in the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. Randomised groups were instructed to take twice daily for 12 weeks 50 drops (ca. 1 ml) of one of three trial preparations: ethanolic extract (1: 11, 30% ethanol) of Echinacea purpurea root (Group A, n = 99) or Echinacea angustifolia root (Group B, n = 100), or an ethanolic placebo solution (Group C, n = 99). 244 participants fully conformed with the protocol: 85, 84 and 75 in Groups A, B and C, respectively. The average time until occurrence of first upper respiratory tract infections was 69, 66 and 65 days, and 29%, 32% and 37% of participants had at least one upper respiratory tract infection, in Groups A, B and C, respectively. Although perhaps suggesting a relative reduction in risk of infection of 20% for Echinacea purpurea root compared to placebo, the results were not statistically significant (Melchart et al. 1998).

The effect of chemically defined extracts from Echinacea angustifolia root on rhinovirus infection was evaluated. Three preparations of Echinacea, with distinct phytochemical profiles, were produced by extraction from Echinacea angustifolia root with supercritical carbon dioxide, 60% ethanol, or

20% ethanol. A total of 437 volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either prophylaxis (beginning 7 days before the virus challenge) or treatment (beginning at the time of the challenge) either with one of these preparations or with placebo. The treatments were given 3 times each day as a 1.5 ml tincture containing the equivalent of 300 mg of Echinacea root. The results for 399 volunteers who were challenged with rhinovirus type 39 and observed in a sequestered setting for 5 days were included in the data analysis. There were no statistically significant effects of the three Echinacea extracts on rates of infection or severity of symptoms. Similarly, there were no significant effects of treatment on the volume of nasal secretions, on polymorph nuclear leukocyte or IL-8 concentrations in nasal-lavage specimens, or on the quantitative-virus titer. The results of this study indicate that extracts of Echinacea angustifolia root, either alone or in combination, do not have clinically significant effects on infection with a rhinovirus or on the clinical illness that results from it (Turner et al. 2005).

There were two responses to this study:

The trial by Turner et al. (July 28 issue) could have benefited from the inclusion of additional treatment groups with higher daily doses of Echinacea. The dose equivalent of 900 mg of dried root derives from the German Commission E monograph for Echinacea pallida root, a different species from Echinacea angustifolia. Echinacea angustifolia root is not officially approved and thus has no recommended dosage in Germany, owing to a lack of sufficient supporting data. The 1999 World Health Organization monograph on Echinacea angustifolia root cites a 3 g daily dose, which is 330% of the dose used in this trial. The 3 g daily dose is also recommended by the Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate. Outcomes of rigorously designed clinical trials usually pertain only to the specific variables of such trials. A higher dosage, approximating the levels used by many consumers and recommended by many alternative health care providers, might have made this trial more relevant to the real-world use and potential benefits of Echinacea (Blumenthal 2005).

Turner et al. recently reported the results of a trial that evaluated the efficacy of Echinacea angustifolia in the prevention and treatment of experimental rhinovirus type 39 infection. Although the trial was well designed and adequately powered, there are several caveats that need to be highlighted. First,

there was no evidence that the plant used was Echinacea angustifolia, given that product identification and validation tests, such as chromatography, were not performed. Second, there was some confusion as to whether the product was an extract or a tincture and, therefore, some uncertainty about the strength of the formulation. Hence, it is difficult to ascertain whether the administered dose of Echinacea was adequate. Finally, the authors inappropriately conclude that Echinacea is ineffective in the treatment of rhinovirus infection, with only 1 of more than 100 subtypes of rhinovirus having been tested. Thus, any claim that Echinacea is ineffective in the prophylaxis and treatment of the common cold cannot be validated without further tests to determine the efficacy of the extract on other viral agents (Leach 2005).

Echinacea angustifolia in combination with other herbal substances

The efficacy of dried, encapsulated, whole-plant Echinacea as early treatment for the common cold in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled community-based trial at University of Wisconsin, on 148 students with common colds of recent onset was assessed. Each active capsule contained a dried mixture of Echinacea angustifolia root (50% [123 mg]), Echinacea purpurea root (25% [62 mg]), and Echinacea purpurea herb (25% [62 mg]). Echinacea capsules also contained thyme (49 mg) and peppermint (31 mg) to disguise taste and flavour, as well as citric acid (3 mg) as a preservative. The placebo capsules contained 333 mg of alfalfa. The patients took 4 capsules 6 times during the first 24 h of the study, and 4 capsules 3 times each day thereafter until symptoms resolved, for a maximum of 10 days. Severity and duration of self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection were recorded. No statistically significant differences were detected between the Echinacea and placebo groups for any of the measured outcomes. Trajectories of severity over time were nearly identical in the two groups. Mean cold duration was 6.01 days in both groups as a whole, 5.75 days in the placebo group, and 6.27 days in the Echinacea group (between-group difference, -0.52 day [95% CI, -1.09 to 0.22 days]). After controlling for severity and duration of symptoms before study entry, sex, date of enrolment, and use of nonprotocol medications, researchers found no statistically significant treatment effect (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.24 [CI, 0.86 to 1.78]). Multivariable regression models assessing severity scores over time failed to detect statistically significant differences between the Echinacea and placebo groups (Barret et al. 2002).

The immunomodulating effects of two Echinacea species, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia and larch arabinogalactan extracted from Larix occidentalis were examined in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, prospective 4-week clinical trial at a naturopathic medical school research centre. Forty-eight healthy female volunteers (22-51 years) were randomly assigned to one of six groups: extract of Echinacea purpurea; ultra-refined Echinacea purpurea/Echinacea angustifolia; Echinacea purpurea/Echinacea angustifolia (EPA); Echinacea purpurea/Echinacea angustifolia plus larch arabinogalactan (EPALA); larch arabinogalactan; or placebo. Immunological tests with enumerative measurements, stool cultures for Lactobacillus acidophilus and yeast, and health-related quality of life using the Medical Outcomes Study derived SF-36 self- administered questionnaire were assessed at baseline and at 4 weeks. Complement properdin increased by 21% in the EPA group (p<0.05) and by 18% in the EPALA group (p<0.05), compared to the placebo group (p>0.05). SF-36 showed improvements in overall physical health, vitality, and emotional health in the same two groups (EPA and EPALA). Volunteers in the EPA and EPALA groups had increased production of complement properdin after 4 weeks of intervention. The increased complement properdin may be an indication of one aspect of immune system stimulation in patients treated with either Echinacea purpurea/Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea/Echinacea angustifolia plus larch arabinogalactan (Kim et al. 2002).

4.2.3. Clinical studies in special populations (e.g. elderly and children)

The effectiveness and safety of a preparation containing Echinacea, propolis and vitamin C in the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children during a 12-week winter period was evaluated in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Four hundred thirty children, aged 1 to 5 years, were randomised to an herbal extract preparation (n = 215) or a placebo elixir (n = 215). A herbal preparation containing 50 mg/ml of Echinacea, 50 mg/ml of propolis, and 10 mg/ml of vitamin C, or placebo (5 ml and 7.5 ml twice daily for ages 1 to 3 years and 4 to 5 years, respectively were administrated) for 12 weeks. Significant mean +/- SD reductions of illnesses were seen in the verum group in the number of illness episodes, 138 vs 308 (55% reduction); number of episodes per child, 0.9 +/- 1.1 vs 1.8 +/- 1.3 (50% reduction, P<.001); and number of days with fever per child, 2.1 +/- 2.9 vs 5.4 +/- 4.4) (62% reduction, P<.001). The total number of illness days and duration of individual episodes were also significantly lower in the verum group. Adverse drug reactions were rare, mild, and transient. A preventive effect of the preparation containing Echinacea, propolis and vitamin C on the incidence of respiratory tract infections was observed (Cohen et al. 2004).

4.3. Overall conclusions on clinical pharmacology and efficacy

Echinacea angustifolia root extract did not prove to be successful in preventing of upper respiratory tract infection in one double-blind, placebo-controlled study; it also did not prove to be successful in the treatment of rhinovirus infection in another randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Echinacea angustifolia root in combination with Echinacea purpurea root and herb did not prove to be successful in early treatment of the common cold. On the other hand, it showed improvements in overall physical health, vitality and emotional health when combined with Echinacea purpurea and larch arabinogalactan in another randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical trial.

Echinacea angustifolia in combination with propolis and vitamin C was reported to be successful in reducing severity and duration of illness in children in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study; however it is difficult to say which component is responsible for the effect or if there was a synergistic action.

5. Clinical Safety/Pharmacovigilance

5.1. Overview of toxicological/safety data from clinical trials in humans

See sections 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3.

5.2. Patient exposure

A systematic review, based on clinical studies, case reports and surveillance programmes of national medicines regulatory authorities and WHO, concluded that Echinacea products have a good safety profile when taken in the short term, while data on long term use is not available. If adverse events occur they tend to be transient and reversible, the most common being gastrointestinal or skin related (Huntley et al. 2005).

In a clinical study, 18 out 100 subjects who took 2 times 50 drops daily (2 times 1 ml) of a hydroethanolic extract of narrow-leaved coneflower root for 12 weeks, reported adverse effects, compared to 11 out of 90 subjects in the placebo group; none of the adverse effects were serious or required therapeutic action (Melchart et al. 1998).

5.3. Adverse events and serious adverse events and deaths

In rare cases, hypersensitivity reactions e.g. skin reactions may occur (Liersch & Bauer 1993). Individuals with allergic tendencies, particularly those with known allergy to other members of the Asteraceae family should be advised to avoid Echinacea (Barnes et al. 2007, Liersch & Bauer 1993).

Reports to poison control centers (PCCs) were characterised involving two widely used herbal dietary supplements (HDSs), Echinacea and St. John’s wort. Data were purchased from the American Association of Poison Control Center’s toxic exposure surveillance system (TESS(R)) on reports made to PCCs in 2001 involving Echinacea or St. John’s wort. Analyses were limited to those cases in which Echinacea or St. John’s wort were the only associated products, and in which these HDSs were deemed primary to observed adverse effects. Descriptive statistics were generated for selected demographic and exposure-related variables. During 2001, PCCs were contacted regarding 406 exposures involving Echinacea and 356 exposures involving St. John’s wort. Most of the reported exposures for both HDSs occurred among children 5 years and younger, and the majority of exposures were coded as unintentional. For both HDSs, exposures among patients 20 years old were more likely to be associated with adverse effects. Intentional exposures accounted for 21% of St. John’s wort cases and 3% of Echinacea cases, with 13% of St. John’s wort exposures reported as ‘suspected suicidal’. TESS represents a potentially important means of assessing and characterising HDS-related adverse effects. Detailed studies validating the clinical events and outcomes of a sample of exposures reported to TESS(R) might offer substantial insights into adverse events that could be systematically studied with other, established pharmacoepidemiological study designs (Gryzlak et al. 2007).

Serious adverse events and deaths

None reported.

5.4. Laboratory findings

No data available.

5.5. Safety in special populations and situations

Intrinsic (including elderly and children)/extrinsic factors

As with all immunostimulants, use is not recommended in progressive systemic diseases such as tuberculosis, diseases of the white blood cells system, collagenoses, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, HIV infections and other immune diseases (Barnes et al. 2005, Barnes et al. 2007, Liersch & Bauer 1993).

Atopic patients and those with asthma should be cautious since rare allergic reactions have been reported (Barnes et al. 2005, Barnes et al. 2007, Huntley et al. 2005).

The use in children under 12 years of age has not been established due to lack of adequate data.

Drug interactions

A publication by Meijerman et al. (2006) reports that an increasing number of cancer patients are using complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in combination with their conventional chemotherapeutic treatment. Considering the narrow therapeutic window of antitumor drugs, this CAM use increases the risk of clinically relevant herb-anticancer drug interactions. Recently, identified nuclear receptors, such as the pregnane X receptor, the constitutive androstane receptor, and the vitamin D-binding receptor, play an important role in the induction of metabolizing enzymes and drug

transporters. This knowledge has already been an aid in the identification of some CAM probably capable of causing interactions with anticancer drugs: kava-kava, vitamin E, quercetin, ginseng, garlic, beta-carotene, and Echinacea. The authors concluded that, evidently, more research is necessary to prevent therapeutic failure and toxicity in cancer patients and to establish guidelines for CAM use (Meijerman et al. 2006).

The review by Freeman & Spelman (2008) assessed the occurrence of drug interactions with one of the top selling botanical remedies, Echinacea including Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida and

Echinacea purpurea. Only 8 papers containing primary data relating to drug interactions were identified. Herbal products made from Echinacea angustifolia appear to have a low potential to generate cytochrome P450 (CYP 450) drug–herb interactions including CYP 450 1A2 (CYP1A2) and CYP 450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Currently there are no verifiable reports of drug–herb interactions with any Echinacea product. However, further pharmacokinetic testing is necessary before conclusive statements can be made about Echinacea drug–herb interactions. The authors concluded that, given the findings, the estimated risk of taking Echinacea products (1 in 100 000), the number of Echinacea doses consumed yearly (> 10 million), the number of adverse events (< 100) and that the majority of use is short term, Echinacea angustifolia products (roots) do not appear to be a risk to consumers (Freeman & Spelman 2008).

Use in pregnancy and lactation

A review on safety of Echinacea during pregnancy and lactation was published (Perri et al. 2006). There is no specification which species of Echinacea was evaluated. They searched 7 electronic databases and compiled data according to the grade of evidence found. They found good scientific evidence from a prospective cohort study that oral consumption of Echinacea during the first trimester does not increase the risk for major malformations. Low-level evidence based on expert opinion shows that oral consumption of Echinacea in recommended doses is safe for use during pregnancy and lactation. They concluded that Echinacea is non-teratogenic when used during pregnancy. Using Echinacea during lactation is not recommended until further high quality human studies can determine its safety.

Pregnancy outcome in women that used Echinacea during pregnancy was studied to evaluate the safety of Echinacea. There is no specification which species of Echinacea was evaluated. Since at least half of all pregnancies are unplanned, many women inadvertently use Echinacea in their first trimester. The study group consisted of 206 women who were prospectively followed up after contacting the Motherisk Educational Program regarding the gestational use of Echinacea, 112 women used the herb in the first trimester. This cohort was disease-matched to women exposed to non-teratogenic agents by maternal age, alcohol and cigarette use. Rates of major and minor malformations between the groups were compared. There were a total of 195 live births, including 3 sets of twins, 13 spontaneous abortions, and 1 therapeutic abortion in the Echinacea group. Six major malformations were reported, including 1 chromosomal abnormality, and 4 of these malformations occurred with Echinacea exposure in the first trimester. In the control group, there were 206 women with 198 live births, 7 spontaneous abortions, and 1 therapeutic abortion. Seven major malformations were reported. There were no statistical differences between the study and control groups for any of the end points analysed. The authors concluded that gestational use of Echinacea during organogenesis is not associated with an increased risk for major malformations (Gallo et al. 2000).

Data on fertility

No data available


No case of overdose has been reported.

Drug abuse

No case of drug abuse has been reported.

Withdrawal and rebound

No data available.

Effects on ability to drive and use machines

No data available.

5.6. Overall conclusions on clinical safety

Hypersensitivity reactions e.g. skin reactions were observed in rare cases; therefore individuals with allergic tendencies particularly those with known allergy to other members of the Asteraceae family should avoid Echinacea angustifolia preparations. Atopic patients and those with asthma should be cautious since rare allergic reactions have been reported.

There are no sufficient data on safety of narrow-leaved coneflower root preparations in children; therefore the use of these herbal preparations is not recommended.

Echinacea angustifolia should not be used in progressive systemic diseases such as tuberculosis, diseases of the white blood cells system, collagenoses, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, HIV infections and other immune diseases.

Due to unreliable studies, administration during pregnancy and lactation is not generally recommended in accordance with general medical practice. Echinacea angustifolia preparations should not be used during pregnancy or lactation without medical advice.

Herbal products made from Echinacea angustifolia appear to have a low potential to generate cytochrome P450 (CYP 450) drug–herb interactions including CYP 450 1A2 (CYP1A2) and CYP 450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Currently there are no verifiable reports of drug–herb interactions with any Echinacea product. However, further pharmacokinetic testing is necessary before conclusive statements can be made.

6. Overall conclusions

The pharmacological effects of Echinacea angustifolia root preparations on immune system of adults were not proved so far; the only evidence for immunomodulatory action is based on in vitro and in vivo animal experiments. The pharmacological mechanisms and active compounds still remain mainly unclear. So far the only compounds for which the oral availability has been established are alkamides. Clinical efficacy in children is not certain; Echinacea angustifolia was only tested in combination with propolis and vitamin C. The data about the toxicity of narrow-leaved coneflower root preparations are limited although it has been used for decades.

Well-established use of Echinacea angustifolia root for the preventive or supportive treatment of common cold is not possible, due to insufficient clinical data.

Traditional use of Echinacea angustifolia root for supportive treatment of common cold is based on bibliographic evidence and documented medicinal use. Although toxicological data are limited, a certain level of safety could be expected due to the long-standing use of Echinacea angustifolia root preparations with no serious undesirable effects reported.

The monograph is established for:

a)the comminuted herbal substance as a herbal tea and the powdered herbal substance, in solid dosage forms

b)the tincture (1:5, ethanol 45% V/V) and the liquid extract (DER 1:1, ethanol 45% V/V), in liquid dosage forms for oral use, for supportive treatment of common cold.

In the absence of adequate tests on genotoxicity, no Community list entry can be established.


List of references