Echinacea: Any opinions?

Posted on 11 December 2007

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from wikipedia.org, by darrell.barrell

It may be a pretty ornamental (E. purpurea, via Wikipedia), but David doesn’t seem so convinced of its therapeutic efficacy. He provides a nice, referenced article in PDF at his blog, “The Canberra Journal.” Plus, he uses a Mac, which is worth a couple of points.

More on this topic (from the NIH) here and here. Despite these disparaging articles, I have job shadowed physicians who insist on taking echinacea when they suspect they are at risk of developing a cold (when their child has one, for example).

This is exactly the sort of topic from which I would expect Wikipedian excellence of the highest form, but the article is pretty disappointing. I thought all sorts of homeopathic and allopathic types would chime in, violently argue and brutalize each others’ intellects, and come up with a great and bias-canceled article. Considering the millions of dollars spent on herbal supplements every year, I even expected a nice dose of commercial wikipedia vandalism. Instead, the article’s just sort of short and bland.

As a side note, I’m beginning to think that we may be headed for a monumental breakthrough in pharmacology. Consider St. John’s Wort, which seems to be most therapeutic when administered as a mix of all of the compounds present in the plant. Someday soon we’ll better understand drug interactions within compounds and with products of their own metabolism…we need some sort of cheap and fast model to throw all of these compounds together and understand the rxn products–perhaps someone is working on software to do this right now. Just think of the difference this is going to make! I wish I knew more about the state of the art within the fields of pharmacology and pharmaceutics…anyone who is educated in these arenas, please feel free to enlighten me!

Anyone know of any other classic Echinacea articles? I’ll probably get around to checking PubMed after my finals are over this week. More on this topic later!

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Posted in: Ramblings