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Equinacea

L'EQUINACEA, CHEMIOTERAPIA NON TOSSICA

EQUINACEA (ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA MOENCH.)

Si usa soprattutto la radice. Più raramente si impiega la pianta intera. È più attiva se si impiega la radice in stato fresco.

Composizione chimica.

I principi attivi più importanti che si conoscono dell'Equinacea angustifolia sono:

Olio essenziale (1,5 percento) dentro il quale il suo principale componente è il humuleno.

Un equinacósido; è una molecola composta per glucosio, rhamnosa, acido cafeico e brenzcatequinétilalcohol.

Polisaccaridi o heteroglicanos; si tratta di molecole di peso molecolare di 45.000 (composto di arabinosa, xilosio e galattosio) e di 25.000 (composto di rhamnosa, arabinosa, xilosio e galattosio).

Acidi organici: derivati dell'acido cichoreico, acido cafeico, derivati del cafeoil-etilico, verbascósido, acido clorogénico, acido isoclorogénico.

Resina (1,9 percento), composta per acido oléico, linoléico, cerotínico e palmitico.

Altri componenti: isobutilamida, sotto forma di acidi grassi insaturi, poliacetileno, 8-pentadeceno-2-ona, 1,8 pentadecadieno, echinolona, cinarina, inulina, pentosano, zucchera ridotti.

L'Equinácea è stata chiamata col subnombre di antibiotico vegetale. L'esperienza Medica rivela una chiara attività nelle affezioni batteriche e virali, tuttavia, il termine antibiotico sta male impiegato, poiché questa pianta non ammazza direttamente il batterio come un antibiotico classico. La sua attività si spiega per una stimolazione del sistema immunitario.

Wagner in Munich, ha potuto dimostrare questa attività sul sistema immunitario, mediante test di laboratorio, identificando anche diversi costituente che provocano questo effetto, oltre all'echinacina ed i polisaccaridi. Bauer studiò che i principi attivi (isobutilamida, poliínos, echinacósido ed i derivati dell'acido cichoreico), contenuti negli estratti alcolici della radice dell'Equinácea, avevano un'azione inmunoestimulante,
benché meno importante di quella dei polisaccaridi.

I differenti meccanismi che utilizzano per isolare il faretto di infezione sono:

* Inibizione delle enzimi hialuronidasas dei batteri. Bonadeo (1971), ed altri autori, hanno dimostrato la relazione tra l'estratto di Equinácea ostacola la capacità despolimerizante della hialuronidasa, tanto a livello della capsula del germe, come sugli elementi intracellulari, cioè, hanno un effetto antinfeccioso indiretto. L'attività antihialuronidasa di 0,03 ml. di Equinácea, corrispondono approssimativamente a 1 mg. di cortisone e secondo Koch, dose sette volte superiori, inibiscono l'hialuronidasa al 100 percento.

* Stimola l'attività dei fagocitos serici e tisulares. Meissner (1980) dimostrò nell'animale un aumento di quello numero di leucociti ed un'accelerazione della velocità di circolazione sanguinea. Chone (1965) dimostrò una gran elevazione dei granulociti e della fagocitosis histogénica ed ematologica dopo l'iniezione della frazione polisacarídica dell'Equinácea.

Lohmann Matthes vió che l'attività dei polisaccaridi dell'Equinácea, inibivano l'infezione prodotta per Candido Albicans, in animali.

* Agisce anche elevando il livello di properdina (indicatore non specifico del potere di resistenza dell'organismo, interviene nella lisis batterica). Weiss e Pillemer osservarono un'azione bifase dell'Equinácea, primo
si prodursi una caduta nel momento dell'iniezione, per dopo aumentare progressivamente e per lungo tempo. Il mantenimento del tasso di properdina, sta in relazione diretta con la liberazione di polisaccaridi, dal momento che appaiono cambiamenti del tessuto intercelular.

L'azione antinfecciosa, è facilitata per un'azione antinflamatoria
che può attribuirsi all'equinacina o sostanze lipófilas come i fitosteroles.

Produce un'elevazione del livello di interferone. L'interferone, è
un prodotto cellulare nativo che si forma in risposta a virus o altri acidi
nucléicos strani. Può scoprirsi perfino due ore dopo l'infezione. È liberato
per le cellule infettate e stimola la produzione di proteina inibitoria della
traduzione (TIP) in altri cellule ospiti. La TIP si fissa alle ribosomas
cellulari e blocca selettivamente la traduzione di RNA messaggero dell'ospite,
e pertanto permettendo una funzione cellulare normale nell'ospite.
L'interferone non è specifico di un virus, e può essere attivo contro vari; ma
è specifico di specie, e può usarsi solo in quella stessa specie che
inizialmente lo produsse.

A livello osseo, l'Equinácea agisce accelerando e rinforzando i
fibroblastos e favorendo il tessuto di sostegno.

A livello di tessuto epidermico, stimola la trasformazione di
fibroblastos in fibrocitos, quello che facilita la rigenerazione tisular,
insieme a stimola anche l'elevazione delle cellule epidermiche dello strato
germinativo (favorisce la cocatrización).

Si è impiegato con successo, come stimolante del sistema
immunitario, tanto nella prevenzione come nel trattamento di infezioni
respiratorie acute o croniche, influenze, catarri, infezioni gastrointestinali,
otite, allergie, infiammazioni articulares (artrite), infezioni orali,
infezioni renali, convalescenze, in alterazioni della pelle (dermatosi, eczemi
secchi e liquenificados, psoriasi, etc.), ferite, scottature, herpes labiali,
ulceri varicose, vaginite per candido Albicans, in trattamenti di irradiazione,
chemioterapia, etc.

ECHINACEA NATURAL HERBAL REMEDIE FOR IMMUNITY

Echinacea is one of the best-known immune- enhancing herbs. It can be used internally or externally.

Echinacea stimulates the white blood cells that help fight infections in the body. Research has shown that echinacea enhances the activity of a particular type of white blood cells-macrophages. A particular glycoprotein in echinacea was found to significantly increase the killing effect of macrophages on tumor cells. A number of studies have found that echinacea boosts the body's ability to fight Listeria, a bacterium that causes a deadly form of food poisoning, and Candida yeast.


Echinacea and Immunity

Early research has shown that echinacea has a profound effect on the number and kind of blood cells in the bloodstream.

Echinacea behaves like a tonic by keeping the ratio of red to white blood cells within acceptable limits. It does that by:

Promoting the production of white blood cells when the percentage is too low.
Suppressing the production of white blood cells when there are an excess of these.

Echinacea seemed to increase the rate of phagocytosis. It improves waste elimination and increases destruction of foreign substances in the blood.

Echinacea has been shown to improve the first lines of defense of our body. It does so by inhibiting an enzyme called hyaluronidase that can be stimulated by pathogens to break apart the connective tissue surrounding body cells. These body cells are known as the reticuloendothelial system, or RES. Once the integrity of the RES connective tissues has been compromised, germs can easily latch onto the body cells and begin the progressive destruction of cells. Substances in echinacea combine with receptors on hyaluronidase and neutralize it. This results in a temporary improvement in the skin's and other tissues' ability to keep the germs away.(3,4)

Echinacea constituents may also be involved in the regrowth of connective tissue that has been destroyed during infection. The stimulation of the healing process drastically reduces the degree to which sensitive and vulnerable body cells are exposed to an environment laden with dangerous microorganisms.

During the period of infection, when the body is running low on its resources, echinacea has been found to have a strong and direct activating force on the body's ability to produce macrophages and speed them to the area of infection. Echinacea also stimulates the production of the lymphokines.(5-6)

Echinacea exhibits a significant lethal effect on certain forms of cancerous tissue. USDA researchers have isolated a tumor-inhibiting principle in the essential oil of echinacea. The herb may do this by stimulating the production of key lymphocytes which in turn trigger the activation of cells such as the natural killer cells. (7)

In 1978, researchers in Germany discovered that echinacea behaves in a manner similar to interferon, either by stimulating the production of interferon or by acquiring some of its characteristics. No one knows for sure how it works, but the findings are consistent:

Safety

Echinacea is completely nontoxic and safe when used as recommended.

Recommended Dosage

Echinacea is best taken as a concentrated liquid extract, or tincture. It is more easily absorbed into the bloodstream in liquid form. An alcohol extract is reportedly more beneficial than the capsules, or tablets.

Some herbalists suggest that the immune benefits of echinacea are strongest when it is used no more than a couple of weeks at a time.

A German study, published in 1992, reported that 900 milligrams of echinacea significantly reduced flu symptoms. Lower doses, however, were no better than dummy pills. (12)

To treat an infection, take one-half to one teaspoon of echinacea as an herbal extract in liquid form three times daily for seven to ten days. Another method would be to take echinacea in homeopathic form. Take twenty drops as the first dose, and then take ten drops up to six times daily for two days. Then take ten drops three times daily for up to one week after overcoming the infection.

Combination

You can use echinacea alone. But many herbalists recommend it in combination with other herbs.

For immune enhancement, combine echinacea with astralagus, wild indigo, or myrrh.
For lymphatic drainage, combine it with cleavers or pokeroot.

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ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA, E. PURPUREA AND E. PALLIDA

Long used by Native Americans, Midwestern settlers, and earlier generations of doctors, this herb fell out of favor with the advent of modern antibiotics.but echinacea is regaining popularity as a safe and powerful immune-system booster to fight colds, flu, and other infections.


COMMON USES

Reduces the body's susceptibility to colds and flu.
Limits the duration and severity of infections.
Helps fight recurrent respiratory, middle ear, urinary tract, and vaginal yeast infections.
Speeds the healing of skin wounds and inflammations.


WHAT IT IS

Also known as the purple, or prairie, coneflower , echinacea (pronounced ek-in-NAY-sha) is a wildflower with daisylike purple blossoms native to the grasslands of the central Untied States.For centuries, the Plains tribes used the plant to heal wounds and to counteract the toxins of snakebites.The herb also became popular with European-American pioneers and their physicians, who considered it an all-purpose infection fighter.

Of the nine echinacea species, three (Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallida, and E. purpurea) are used medicinally.They appear in literally hundreds of commercial preparations, which utilize different parts of the plant (flowers, leaves, stems, or roots) and come in a variety of forms.Echinacea contains many active ingredients thought to strengthen the immune system, and in recent years, it has become one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world.


WHAT IT DOES

A natural antibiotic and infection fighter, echinacea helps to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other disease-causing microbes.it acts by stimulating various immune-system cells that are key weapons against infection.In addition, the herb boosts the cells production of an innate virus-fighting substance called interferon.Because these effects are relatively short-lived, however, the herb is best administered at frequent intervals - as often as every couple of hours during acute infections.


LATEST FINDINGS

Scientists are investigating whether echinacea may also be helpful against cancer.In a recent study in Germany, a small group of patients with advanced colon cancer received echinacea along with standard chemotherapy.The herb appeared to prolong survival in these patients, presumably by boosting the immune system's ability to fight cancer cells. Additional research is needed to define the possible role of this herb in combating colon and other forms of cancer.


MAJOR BENEFITS

Echinacea can help prevent the two most common viral ailments - colds and flu.It is most effective when taken at the first hint of illness.In one study of people who were susceptible to colds, those who used the herb for eight weeks were 35% less likely to come down with a cold than those given a placebo.Furthermore, they caught colds less often - 40 days elapsed between infections, versus 25 days for the placebo group.Studies confirm that echinacea is also useful if you're already suffering from the aches, pains, congestion, or fever of colds or flu.Overall, symptoms are less severe and subside sooner.

DID YOU KNOW
Echinacea contains a substance that makes the lips and tongue tingle when taken in liquid form.If you use a liquid preparation, look for this effect - it's often a good indication that you've bought a high-quality product.


POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

At recommended doses, echinacea has no known side effect, and no adverse reactions have been reported in pregnant or nursing women.


ADDITIONAL BENEF

Echinacea may be of value for recurrent ailments, including vaginal yeast, urinary tract, and middle ear infections.It is also sometimes used to treat strep throat, staph infections, herpes infections (including genital herpes, cold sores, and shingles), bronchitis, and sinus infections.Moreover, the herb is being studied as a possible treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS.And it may prove effective against some types of cancer, particularly in patients whose immune systems are depressed by radiation treatments or chemotherapy.
Echinacea can be applied to the skin as well.Its juice promotes the healing of all kinds of wounds, boils, abscesses, eczema, burns, canker or cold sores, and bedsores.To treat a sore throat or tonsillitis, the tincture can be diluted and used as a gargle.


GUIDELINES FOR USE

Echinacea should be used no longer than eight weeks, followed by a one-week interval before you resume taking it.Some studies suggest that with continuous use, the herb's immunity-boosting effects diminish.Starting and stopping echinacea, or rotating it with other herbs, may maximize its effectiveness.You can take it with or without food.

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ECHINACEA

Biological Name: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia.
Other Names: Narrow-leaved purple coneflower, Sampson root, Black Sampson, Red sunflower, Echinacea
Parts Used: roots
Active Compounds:
Echinacea supports the immune system. Several constituents in echinacea team together to increase the production and activity of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and macrophages. Echinacea also increases reduction of interferon, an important part of the body's response to viral infections such as colds and flu.

History:
Echinacea was used by American Indians for a variety of conditions, including venomous bites and other external wounds. It was introduced into US. medical practice in 1887 and was touted for use in conditions ranging from colds to syphilis. Modern research started in the 1930s in Germany.

Traditionally echinacea has been used for blood poisoning, fevers, carbuncles, acne, eczema, boils, peritonitis, syphilis conditions, bites and stings of poisonous insects or snakes, erysipelas, gangrenous conditions, diphtheria, tonsillitis, sores, infections and wounds.

Remedies For:
Alterative, antiseptic, tonic, depurative, maturating, febrifuge

Echinacea is used for:

Cancer
Mouth ulcer
Common cold/sore throat
Crohn's disease
Gingivitis (periodontal disease)
Immune function
Influenza (flu)
Recurrent ear infection
Yeast infection

Echinacea had been used to treat infections. There are some anecdotal reports of using echinacea for AIDS, more research need to be done in that area before any conclusions can be reached.

Infections: Echinacea enhances the body's immune system. It has been shown effective for treating conditions such as influenza, colds, upper respiratory tract infections, urogenital infections, and other infectious conditions.

Common Cold: Echinacea is very popular for the treatment of common cold. Echinacea has been found effective in getting people back to health quickly as well as delaying getting other infections. Patients with weakened immune system have been found to be the most benefited from this herb.

Snake Bite: Echinacea had been used by American Indians as a remedy for snakebites. Echinacea is believed to inhibit hyaluronidase, a component of snake venom.

Wound Healing: Echinacea was found effective for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions such as abscesses, foliculitis, wounds of all kinds, eczema, burns, herpes, and varicose ulcers of the leg.
Arthritis: Echinacea's anti-inflammatory activity helps alleviate rheumatoid arthritis.

Cancer: Echinacea is used to offset the depression of white cells during radiation and chemotherapy for cancer patients. Many clinical tests have shown that echinacea stabilized the white blood cells in patients undergoing cancer treatment, whereas, the patients not receiving echinacea had shown a continued decline in the white blood cells.

Description:
Echinacea is a wildflower native to North America. While echinacea continues to grow and is harvested from the wild, the majority of that used for herbal supplements is from cultivated plants. The root or aboveground part of the plant during the flowering growth phase is used medicinally.

The stout, bristly stem bears hairy, linear-lanceolate leaves, tapering at both ends, the lower on long petioles, the upper sessile. The distinctive flower features 12 to 20 large, spreading, dull-purple rays and a conical disk made up of numerous purple, tubular florets. Flowering time is June to October.

Dosage:
As an immune system stimulant, echinacea is best taken for a specific period of time. At the onset of a cold, it can be taken three to four times per day for ten to fourteen days. To prevent a cold, many people take echinacea tablets or capsules three times per day for six to eight weeks. A "rest" period is recommended after this, as echinacea's effects may diminish if used longer.

If preferred, powdered echinacea, in about 900 mg amounts, can be taken.

Liquid extracts are typically taken as 3-4 ml, three times per day.

Dried root: (or as tea): 1-2 grams

Freeze dried plant: 325-650 milligrams

Safety:
Echinacea is essentially nontoxic when taken orally. People should not take echinacea without consulting a physician if they have an autoimmune illness, such as lupus, or other progressive diseases, such as tuberculosis or multiple sclerosis. Those who are allergic to flowers of the daisy family should take echinacea with caution. There are no known contra-indications to the use of echinacea during pregnancy or lactation.

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