Echinacea stimulates production of NK cells
Bone, Kerry. My favorite herb has just been declared a miracle drug. Dr. Jonathan Wright’s Nutrition and Healing 14:2:7, April 2007
… researchers gave healthy young adult mice oral doses of Echinacea purpurea root (0.45 mg per 25 g body weight, similar to human dosage rates) to see if it would stimulate the production of NK cells. After receiving the Echinacea for two weeks, the mice had significantly higher levels (around 25 percent more) of NK cells in their spleens. They also had 25 percent more monocytes, the ‘helper’ cells for NK cells, in both their bone marrow and in their spleens. (The Echinacea treatment influenced no other white blood cell counts.) When they conducted experiments in healthy, elderly mice, the researchers found that after just two weeks of giving the mice oral doses of Echinacea, the NK cell numbers in their bone marrow and their spleens returned to the levels of young adults —and, just as importantly, the Echinacea also resurrected the killing capacity of these cells. Dr. Miller said, “These observations appear to apply uniquely to this herb since we could never rejuvenate the NK cell-mediated component of the immune system in elderly mice by any of the other typical NK cell enhancers.”
Long-term use for lifetime benefits
One of the persistent controversies about Echinacea is whether you can safely take it for long periods of time. According to Miller’s findings, the answer is definitely in the affirmative, at least when it’s administered to mice.When mice were fed Echinacea purpurea root from seven weeks of age to 13 months (0.45 mg per 25 g body weight), not only was the Echinacea NOT detrimental—it was distinctly beneficial. By 13 months of age, only 46 percent of the control mice fed the standard chow were still alive, as compared with 74 percent of those consuming Echinacea. As might be expected from previous experiments, the NK cell levels in the Echinacea-fed mice were considerably elevated compared to controls.
Research citations are all available for subscribers to Dr. Wright’s newsletter (recommended). You might check the National Institutions of Health or the University of Maryland sites on the use of Echinacea.
As a former professor of preventive medicine, I can assure you that every dollar spent on prevention will save more than $10 later on in medical bills. If you are predisposed to cancer or Lyme disease (and who isn’t is this toxic age) and do not have autoimmune disorders, in addition to Transfer Factor Plus you might take a look at Echinacea as these chronic diseases both have large numbers of aberrant cells long before disease symptoms appear.