New study on Echinacea is faulty-Company urges scientists to read earlier studies regarding the correct ratio of active compounds and proper dosing
VANCOUVER, Jul 28, 2005 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- A new study which claims that Echinacea products work no better than a placebo on cold symptoms has been called faulty and inaccurate by the Canadian-based Company that produces a number of well known Echinacea-based products for consumers around the world.
According to Dr. Michael Murray, the Director of Education for Factors Group of Nutritional Companies, consumers should certainly not dismiss Echinacea as a cold remedy based on the results of this study alone.
Dr. Murray says that the most recent study, as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, revealed that the study was incorrect on several different levels.
"What determines the effectiveness of any herbal product is its ability to deliver an effective dosage of active compounds. The specific components of Echinacea responsible for its immune-enhancing effects are the polysaccharides, alkylamides and the cichoric acid," says Dr. Murray. "While each of these components is effective alone, the greatest degree of effectiveness occurs when the three active components are combined and at a specific ratio."
Dr. Murray says that the current study's researchers made a mistake by not ensuring that the three active compounds which ensure the efficacy of any Echinacea product were utilized in an optimum ratio in this specific study. He says none of the three extracts used on the 399 study participants actually contained all of the three necessary compounds.
Dr. Murray also calls into question the study's dosing of study participants.
"According to the study, the patients were given 1.5 mL three times a day which represents 300 mg per dose or 900 mg per day. This is not an effective dose. The standard dosage for dried Echinacea angustifolia root is normally three grams per day or more and this study used less than one gram," says Dr. Murray.
Dr. Murray adds that even the National Health Products Directorate of Health Canada, which is known to be very conservative in the area of dosing, recommends a minimum dosage of three grams of Echinacea for therapeutic results.(1)
Roland Gahler, Executive Chairman of the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies says, "The real problem is that not all Echinacea products are equal. As Dr. Murray has so correctly pointed out, it has been clearly shown time and time again that the single most important aspect in getting results from an Echinacea product is to make sure that it can provide sufficient levels of all three classes of the key categories of active compounds in their proper ratio."
"The benefits of such a preparation have been clinically verified in a number of studies that the current study's researchers chose to ignore," says Mr. Gahler.
Factors Group developed its Echinacea-based products following years of collaboration with researchers at the University of Alberta, University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University in Canada, as well as Heinrich-Hein University in Dusseldorf, Germany and Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Austria. All products were subjected to rigorous clinical and laboratory testing.
Dr. Richard Barton, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia and co-director of the Company's human clinical studies, says that there have been a lot of studies with Echinacea done before but, as usual, none utilize the proper ratio of active compounds. He says that, as a result, the research continues to be disappointing.
"In contrast, the research that we did on Echinilin(R) was triple- standardized (alkylamide, polysaccharide, cichoric acid). And, the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled human studies showed it to be consistently effective in fighting off cold and flu viruses. We saw a sustained increase in natural killer cells (NK cells) in participants when they were given Echinilin which no doubt contributed to a more active immune system resulting in the destruction of virus-infected cells. The end result was a remarkably high reduction in both severity of symptoms and duration of the infection," says Dr. Barton.
The Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics published an article on Dr. Barton's study and described the findings as a breakthrough in the fight against viral infections such as the common cold and the flu in February 2004.(2)
Factors Group of Nutritional Companies includes Factors R & D Technologies Ltd., which is Canada's leading research organization in evidence-based phytopharmaceuticals. The Company's science team is comprised of international experts -- some of whom hold positions at the universities in Alberta, British Columbia, Dalhousie, Toronto and Graz (Austria). Factors R & D coordinates all research and development of the 500-plus products for the Factors Group. This includes its line of Med-Foods(TM), as wells as Echinilin(R) which has demonstrated its effectiveness as an immune system stimulant against upper respiratory illnesses in Phase II clinical trials. Research projects include the agronomy of herbal and other medicinal plants, organic farming methods, extraction processes, laboratory (in vitro) testing and studies, in vivo mammalian studies and human clinical trials.
(2) V. Goel, et al., 'Efficacy of a standardized Echinacea preparation
(Echinilin(R)) for the treatment of the common cold: a randomized,
double-blind, placebo-controlled trial', published in the Journal of
Clinical and Pharmaceutical Therapeutics (2004), 29, 75-83
SOURCE: Natural Factors Nutritional Products Ltd.
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