Every year, health enthusiasts around the world spend billions of dollars on Echinacea. Until recently, the popularity of the herb was based on anecdotal information. Five years ago, however, the U.S. National Institutes of Health began studying Echinacea, and their findings prove those billions are well spent.
NIH wanted to find the answers to these and other questions: Is Echinacea safe for children, as well as adults? Should it be taken daily, even if you’re not sick? Should it be taken during a serious disease, such as cancer?
The scientists did their research on mice, because human beings and mice have 97 percent in common genetically, and almost all our basic physiology is identical. They found that many of Echinacea’s ingredients are powerful immune stimulators. Some are natural killer (NK) cell stimulants, “the first line of defense in cancer immunosurveillance.”
They administered the herb to mice of all ages, from youth through old age. They did not find any level at which the herb was toxic. They also administered the herb to aged mice and to mice who had been injected with leukemia.
The research demonstrated two things. First, the presence of Echinacea in healthy mice may have had a prophylactic effect by raising and sustaining the supply of vital NK cells/monocytes. Second, because Echinacea can stimulate new NK cell generation, it seems it may have a beneficial effect on elderly mice and in rejuvenating the cancer-defense mechanism.
The research indicted the phytochemicals in Echinaea may be able to reduce tumors and viruses. One of their major observations was that Echinacea seems to influence new cell generation, resulting in increased numbers of cells in the bone marrow.
The group also tested the efficacy of whole Echinacea versus isolated compounds contained within the herb. They speculate this may be true for other herbs, as well.
Although millions of people trust Echinacea based on their own experience, there is now verifiable evidence that the herb is safe, and provides real benefit to children and adults when they are healthy, to ward off illness, and when they are already ill, to strengthen the immune system.