Herbal rip-offs . . .

theherbalist2012March 14, 2012

Word of caution: Echinacea herb (the part that grows above ground) does not have the nutritional value that you expect to get from the root. YET, many herb and health food stores sell it.

This is just one example of the scams going on with regards herbal/natural remedies. On the other hand, echinacea ROOT certainly has its place.


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Charlie - if by "nutritional value" you mean enhancement of immune function, there's some evidence that both above-ground growth and roots of Echinacea may have value.

Here's a study that looked at echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold:

"Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults but results are not fully consistent. Beneficial effects of other Echinacea preparations, and for preventative purposes might exist but have not been shown in independently replicated, rigorous randomized trials."

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has recently done a couple of clinical trials on echinacea with negative results.

"Study results are mixed on whether echinacea can prevent or effectively treat upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. For example, two NCCAM-funded studies did not find a benefit from echinacea, either as Echinacea purpurea fresh-pressed juice for treating colds in children, or as an unrefined mixture of Echinacea angustifolia root and Echinacea purpurea root and herb in adults. However, other studies have shown that echinacea may be beneficial in treating upper respiratory infections."

In my own experience, I've avoided colds and flu after taking Echinacea preparations before plane flights, but I've also avoided sickness when I didn't take it - so, my anecdotes are not the greatest evidence.

Where I suspect you're correct about Echinacea herbal rip-offs, it's those products that are not properly standardized to contain an optimal amount of active ingredient (or may not contain any active ingredient at all). But that's a problem plaguing the supplement industry as a whole.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Good answer, Eric.

theherbalist ("Charlie" for those of you who know me best)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:53PM
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both root and aerial parts are medicinally active tho the roots contain more of the medicinal properties.

a sure way to tell if your product is potent...the alkymides present in a strong tincture create a tingly. almost burning sensation on the tongue, sure indication of strong medicine. tinctures kept in the dark in amber glass are good for years after the expiration date listed on the bottle.

echinacea is best used in small doses prophylactically or in large frequent doses at first onset of acute illness.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:27PM
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I use both fresh Echinacea flowering tops (summer harvest) and fresh roots (fall harvest) for my products. There are active compounds in all parts. I find the greatest error on the side of nutraceutical companies is to market and sell the dried form, rather than fresh plant extracts, especially of E. purpurea which loses its potency in dried form much faster than E. angustifolia.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 12:41PM
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