We have received several questions from readers about the use of Echinacea in someone who suffers from autoimmune disease and it is a question we ourselves had too. So it is definitely something we thought others would be interested in as well.
“I have Sjögren’s and Raynaud’s. I think I also have SIBO. I see that your Anti-Bac formula has Echinacea in it.
Dr. Don Colbert, in his book, The Bible cure for Autoimmune Diseases says: “Echinacea is known to boost the immune system, but it can also boost autoantibodies in the immune system, aggravating autoimmune diseases. For those with autoimmune disease, autoantibodies are your enemies. Avoidthis herb, especially if you have lupus.”
I would like your input on this. Thanks again for you book!”
Good question we thought the same thing.
Research has actually found that Echinacea “modulates” the immune response, which is just what is desired in autoimmune disease. For example, Echinacea has also been shown to lower a cytokine called tumor necrosis factor which plays a central role in the autoimmune disease process.
In the following study published in the New England Journal of Medicine the researchers concluded that the level of tumor necrosis factor in cerebrospinal fluid correlated with the severity and progression of multiple sclerosis.
Association between tumor necrosis factor-alpha and disease progression in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Sharief MK, Hentges R. 1991. N Engl J Med. 325(7):467-72.
“Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), is a principal mediator of the inflammatory response…These data provide evidence…of TNF-alpha in multiple sclerosis and suggest that the level of TNF-alpha in cerebrospinal fluid correlates with the severity and progression of the disease…”
Here is a study on tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and rheumatoid arthritis
In the study the researchers concluded their study provides strong evidence that TNF is a key molecule involved in the inflammatory changes that occur in the RA synovium.
The role of TNF‐αin the pathogenesis of inflammation and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a study using a human RA/SCID mouse chimera.
Matsuno, H., K. Yudoh, R. Katayama, F. Nakazawa, M. Uzuki, T. Sawai, T. Yonezawa, Y. Saeki, G.S. Panayi, C. Pitzalis, T. Kimura. 2002. Oxford Journals of Medicine Rheumatology 41 (3): 329-337.
“In order to elucidate which cytokine preferentially stimulates the synovium in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we investigated the roles of tumour necrosis factor α (TNF‐α and interleukin 6 (IL‐6) using SCID mice engrafted with human RA tissue…ynovial inflammatory cells were significantly decreased after the anti‐TNF‐αmAb treatment; conversely, the degree of synovial inflammation was significantly exacerbated by TNF‐αadministration…his study provides strong evidence that TNF‐αis a key molecule in the control of the inflammatory changes that occur in the RA synovium. In addition, TNF‐αregulates IL‐6 production…”
Echinacea has also been shown to lower nitric oxide, another compound that plays a significant role in the autoimmune disease process. For instance, here is a study on Sjögren’s syndrome and elevated nitric oxide.
Wanchu, A., M. Khullar, A. Sud, P. Bambery. 2000. Elevated nitric oxide production in patients with Sjögren’s syndrome. ClinRheumatol.19(5):360-4.
Here is one on multiple sclerosis and nitric oxide.
The potential role of nitric oxide in multiple sclerosis.
Giovannoni G, Heales SJ, Land JM, Thompson EJ. 1998. MultScler. 4(3):212-6.
“Nitric oxide (NO) and its reactive derivative peroxynitrite (ONOO-) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). They are cytotoxic to oligodendrocytes and neurons…”
In the following study the researchers found that echinacea “modulates” the immune response in macrophages.
Modulation of macrophage immune responses by Echinacea.
Stevenson LM, Matthias A, Banbury L, Penman KG, Bone KM, Leach DL, Lehmann RP. 2005. Molecules.10(10):1279-85.
“…These results demonstrate that Echinacea is an effective modulator of macrophage immune responses in vitro.”
In the following study the researchers found that echinacea inhibited production of nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor.
Alcohol extracts of Echinacea inhibit production of nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor-alpha by macrophages in vitro
Zhai Z, Haney D, Wu L, Solco A, Murphy PA, Wurtelle ES, Kohut ML, Cunnick JE.
“It has been suggested that Echinacea has anti-inflammatory activity in vivo. Nitric oxide (NO), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-1beta are important mediators in the inflammatory response. The effect of alcohol extracts of E. angustifolia (EA), E. pallida (EPA) and E. purpurea (EP) on the production of these inflammatory mediators in both LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages in vitro and murine peritoneal exudate cells (PECs) in vivowere investigated… EPA and EP in vitro inhibited NO production and TNF-α release in a dose-dependent manner…”
So like many herbs, it appears that Echinacea works by bringing things back to balance within the body. As with all herbs, it is important to get the highest quality organic and/or wildcrafted herbs are the best from companies you know and trust.
Shared at Simple Lives Thursday