“Application of Phytomedicine in infectious diseases”
Echinacea is probably the most sought after herbal ingredient for the treatment of various types of wounds and diseases. Recent studies have revealed that certain standardized preparations contain potent and selective antiviral and antimicrobial activities.
We take a look at some very insightful information that has been reported in BioMed Research International (see ref. below) where a comprehensive assessment of applications of Echinacea Purpurea as a phytomedicine has been reported indicating the use of this traditional herbal ingredient against infectious diseases.
It is important to mention that the mechanism of infectious agents is at times difficult to elucidate as well as identifying the exact process of activity which a traditional herbal agent has upon the nature of the infectious pathogen.
In an attempt to validate some of the traditional uses of Echinacea, numerous studies have been made on the effects of characterised Echinacea Purpurea preparations on viruses, bacteria and other organisms.
Influenza viruses are ubiquitous and produce significant annual morbidity and mortality throughout the world, with potentially devastating consequences for human and animal health and the global economy. Acute respiratory infections in humans are caused by one or more of a group of well-known viruses which includes over 100 rhinoviruses (common cold viruses), influenza viruses A and B, Parainfluenza viruses, Corona viruses, Respiratory syncytial virus and certain Adenoviruses. Clearly, various families of viruses, with different structures and replication schemes and with different molecular targets, are involved in respiratory symptoms and many of them are susceptible to Echinacea extracts.
In respiratory infections, the invading virus initially encounters epithelial tissues/cells. These cells respond by various means of antimicrobial strategies which make up the innate immune system response. The classical symptoms of human influenza include cough, malaise, and fever, often accompanied by sore throat, nasal obstruction, and sputum production, which resolve spontaneously in most healthy individuals, although immune compromised and elderly individuals tend to be more vulnerable. Complications may include bronchitis and pneumonia, and exacerbation of asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Early studies showed that only certain Echinacea extracts possessed significant antiviral activity. Echinacea Purpurea (EP) aerial parts and roots contained potent antiviral activities (viricidal) against influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, and coronavirus, and these were distributed among more than one solvent derived fraction, probably reflecting the presence of more than one antiviral compound. A more comprehensive trial that also includes influenza virus and other respiratory viruses, incorporating the use of a well-characterized bioactive Echinacea extract, is needed to confirm the benefits of oral Echinacea use. Until that has been done, we are left with overwhelming anecdotal experience, in addition to the very encouraging results from the cell and tissue culture studies and animal studies, but no definitive conclusion regarding clinical efficacy in humans.
Phytomedicine is an encouraging area of scientific and medical research, the information provided from this very comprehensive assessment of Echinacea Purpurea certainly provides us with evidence of the value of herbal medicines in managing or treating infectious diseases.
This article is provided as a means of increasing knowledge and education of the use of Herbal Medicines and Herbal Extracts. People who choose to self-medicate using commercially available Herbal Extracts of Echinacea should first speak to their healthcare professional.
For more detailed information, please refer to the full details of the review article cited below.
Review Article | Open Access
Volume 2012 |Article ID 769896 | 16 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/769896