Radix Echinaceae

Radix Echinaceae

Radix Echinaceae consists of the fresh or dried roots of Echinacea angustifolia D.C. var. angustifolia or its variety strigosa McGregor, or E. pallida (Nutt.) Nutt. (Asteraceae) (1–3).

Echinacea angustifolia D.C. var. angustifolia
Brauneria angustifolia Heller, Echinacea pallida var. angustifolia (D.C.) Cronq. (4, 5).

Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt.
Echinacea angustifolia Hook, Rudbeckia pallida Nutt., Brauneria pallida Britt., Echinacea pallida f. albida Steyerm (4, 5). E. angustifolia and E. pallida were regarded as varieties of the same species or even identical plants. However, in a revision of the genus Echinacea in 1968, McGregor (4) classified them as two distinct species with E. angustifolia further divided into two varieties (4, 5). A considerable amount of commercial “E. angustifolia” cultivated in Europe was, in fact, E. pallida. Data on E. angustifolia published prior to 1987 and based on material of commerce from Europe should be reviewed with caution (5). Current commercial preparations are derived primarily from E. angustifolia and E. pallida roots; the preparation of a monograph on E. purpurea root awaits further data. Asteraceae are also known as Compositae.

Selected vernacular names
Echinacea angustifolia D.C. var. angustifolia
American coneflower, black sampson, cock up head, coneflower, echinacea root, Igelkopf, Indian head, Kansas snakeroot, Kegelblume, narrow-leaved purple coneflower root, purple coneflower, Sonnenhut, racine d’echinacea (5– 10).

Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt.
Blasser Igelkopf, blasse Kegelblume, blasser Sonnenhut, pale coneflower root, pale purple coneflower root, pallida root (8, 10). 125

rays reflexed. lanceolate. angustifolia Stems simple or occasionally branched. 4–9 cm long. rhizomes crowned with remains of the aerial stem and sometimes showing surface annulations. passing imperceptibly into a rhizome in the upper part. disc corollas 6–8. 1–2. white. lobes 1.5–3.5–3 cm high. 24–28. These are surrounded by infertile drooping or spreading ray flowers that have 2 or 3 teeth at each end.3 cm long. outer surface pale brown to yellowish brown. 5–8 mm wide. phyllaries lanceolate to narrowly oblong. petiolate below to sessile above. rays spreading. ciliate. teeth about even.5 µm in diameter.C. acute. 2– 4 mm broad. rarely branched. herbaceous perennials with either simple or branched stems. 2–3 mm wide. pollen grains white.C. lower cauline leaves petiolate. var.5 cm broad. 40–90 cm high. 1–4 cm broad. achenes 4–5 mm long. 10–50 cm high. its margin may be dentate and the leaf may be pubescent or smooth. The leaf shape varies from lanceolate to ovate. sparsely hirsute below. dark green tuberculate-hirsute to tuberculate-hispid. Stems simple. entire. glabrous. pinkish or purplish. body 8–10 mm long. acute. hirsute. pollen grains yellow. hirsute or tuberculate-hispid above. The terminal single flowering heads have fertile disc florets that terminate in spines (paleae). or white. 0. 5–8 mm broad. awn 2. leaves oblong-lanceolate to long-elliptical. purplish. roots 4–10 mm in diameter.8 cm long. dark green. basal leaves shortto long-petiolate. more densely so above. haploid chromosome number n 22 (4). hirsute on both surfaces.5 mm long. triple-veined. 8–17 mm long. 1–4 cm broad. 4– 15 cm long. 6–11 mm long. tuberculatehirsute or tuberculate-hispid.5 cm broad exclusive of ligules.2–2 mm long. disc floret 8–10 mm long. achenes 3. entire. longest 1 mm. 5–27 cm long. acute. Plant material of interest: fresh or dried roots General appearance Echinacea angustifolia D. phyllaries in three or four series. pales 1–1. basal leaves 10–35 cm long. lobes 2–3 mm long. 2–3. angustifolia Cylindrical or slightly tapering and sometimes spirally twisted.) Nutt. var.5 mm long. 1.7–5 mm long. roots longitudinally wrinkled and deeply fur- 126 . 19–26 µm in diameter. pappus a toothed crown. smooth or hirsute below. haploid chromosome number n 11 (4). pappus a toothed crown. rhizome up to about 15 mm in diameter.5–3. entire. upper cauline leaves sessile.WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants Description Echinacea species are hardy.8 cm broad. the cauline leaves 10–25 cm long. three or four series gradually passing into the echinaceous pales. pink. heads 1. Echinacea pallida (Nutt. Echinacea angustifolia D. leaves oblong-lanceolate to elliptical.5–2. Roots are either single taproot or fibrous in form (6–11).

Powdered plant material E. angustifolia oleoresin canals. pallida are currently unavailable. pallida they are present both inside and outside. spherocrystalline masses of inulin occur throughout the parenchymatous tissue. and phytomelanin is often absent (9. occurring singly or in small groups. fragments of oleoresin canals with reddish brown contents. 12). and shorter. lignified fibres are in scattered groups usually surrounded by phytomelanin deposits. rhizome with occasional small groups of thick-walled. wider. angustifolia (5–7). 300–800 µm long. lignified fibres in the pericycle. are present only outside the central cylinder. lignified reticulately thickened vessels. 25–75 µm in diameter. varying considerably in size and shape from rounded to rectangular to elongated and fibre-like. 100–300 µm. phloem and xylem composed of very narrow strands of vascular tissue separated by wide. pallida they are present only in the periphery of the cortex and they are mostly single. In E. The transverse section shows a thin outer bark separated by a distinct cambium line from a wide xylem. with intercellular spaces containing a dense black deposit. xylem vessels lignified. taste. while in E. mild. angustifolia Powdered rhizome and roots are brown with a slight aromatic odour and initially a sweet taste. E. non-lignified medullary rays. fracture short when dry but becoming tough and pliable on exposure to air (12). pallida Descriptions of powdered E. aromatic. but in E. Similar in appearance to E. angustifolia the narrow. schizogenous oleoresin canals. sweet initially but quickly becoming bitter followed by a tingling sensation on the tongue (12). Thin-walled polygonal cork cells with red-brown contents. 127 . stone cells. quickly becoming bitter and leaving a tingling sensation on the tongue. Microscopic characteristics The roots of the two species are very similar. abundant stone cells of various shapes. abundant thinwalled parenchyma with spherocrystalline masses of inulin (12). up to 300 µm long and 20–40 µm wide.) Nutt. a small circular pith in the rhizome. Cork composed of several rows of thin-walled cells containing yellowish brown pigment. 80–150 µm in diameter and containing yellowish orange oleoresin. Organoleptic properties Odour. cortex parenchymatous. usually reticulate thickening but occasionally with spiral or annular thickening.Radix Echinaceae rowed. Echinacea pallida (Nutt. In E.

enterobacteria and certain Gram-negative bacteria—not more than 103/g or ml. 12).WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants Geographical distribution Echinacea species are native to the Atlantic drainage area of the United States of America and Canada. pallida was cultivated in Europe for a number of years and was mistaken for E. Purity tests Microbiology The test for Salmonella spp. commonly known as “American feverfew”. Moisture Not more than 10% (3). Does not contain roots of Parthenium integrifolium L. Normally.. Foreign organic matter Not more than 3% (2. Pesticide residues To be established in accordance with national requirements. Acid-insoluble ash Not more than 3% (12). the maximum residue limit of aldrin and dieldrin in Radix Echinaceae is not more 128 . 3. Escherichia coli—0/g or ml. E. and other caffeic acid derivatives in methanol extracts can be obtained by thin-layer chromatography and highperformance liquid chromatography (5. and Oklahoma in the United States of America (4). 13). in Radix Echinaceae products should be negative. Preparations for internal use: aerobic bacteria—not more than 105/g or ml. which have been found to be adulterants of or substitutes for Radix Echinaceae (5. Missouri. fungi—not more than 105/g. Chemical finger-prints of lipophilic constituents. fungi—not more than 104/g or ml. Their distribution centres are in Arkansas. angustifolia (9). Water-soluble extractive Not less than 15% (12). Kansas. 9. General identity tests Macroscopic and microscopic examinations (5–7. 13. 14). 9. For preparation of decoction: aerobic bacteria—not more than 107/g. but not Mexico. Total ash Not more than 9% (12). echinacosides. 6. The maximum acceptable limits of other microorganisms are as follows (15– 17). 12). Escherichia coli—not more than 102/g.

Major chemical constituents A number of chemical entities have been identified and reported to be biologically active. The volatile oil contains. see WHO guidelines on quality control methods for medicinal plants (15) and guidelines for predicting dietary intake of pesticide residues (18). the alkaloids 129 . purpurea.2–2%) and echinacoside (0. For other pesticides.Radix Echinaceae than 0. angustifolia. Other purity tests Chemical tests and tests of dilute ethanol-soluble extractive to be established in accordance with national requirements.10-tetraenoic acid isobutylamides.05 mg/kg (17). pallida roots (5). and the lowest is in E. iodine-131. chlorogenic acid derivatives.7%) in both E. Heavy metals Recommended lead and cadmium levels are no more than 10 and 0. angustifolia. The main alkamide is a mixture of isomeric dodeca2. chicoric acid. are found in the roots. 1-pentadecene. caffeic acid derivatives. caesium-134. or both. including a volatile oil. Caffeic acid ester derivatives present include echinacoside. pallida. polyalkynes. among other compounds.4–1. Radioactive residues For analysis of strontium-90.006%) and isotussilagine).8. Chemical assays Essential oil (0. alkamides. Cynarin is present only in E. and chicoric acid. At these concentrations. respectively. in the final dosage form of the plant material (15). Other constituents include trace amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (tussilagine (0. and polysaccharides (5–7.8-Z)diene (44%). More than 20 alkamides. and other constituents by high-performance liquid chromatography (5. followed by E. the highest concentration is in E. cynarin.3 mg/kg. 19). polyalkenes. Quantitative analysis of echinacoside. cynarin.4. pallida. Polysaccharide constituents are of two types: a heteroxylan of relative molecular mass about 35 000 and an arabinorhamnogalactan of relative molecular mass about 45 000. thus distinguishing it from the closely related E. see WHO guidelines on quality control methods for medicinal plants (15). and plutonium-239. caesium-137. pentadeca-(1. angustifolia and E. 9–11). mostly isobutylamides of C11–C16 straight-chain fatty acids with olefinic or acetylenic bonds. ketoalkynes and ketoalkenes.

8Z .10-tetraenoic acid isobutylamides CO2H OH OH O H HO H2C CH3 CH3 O HO or enantiomer [(+)-isomer] echinolone OH O H cynarin (1.10E ). they are considered to have no hepatotoxic potential (5).5-dicaffeylquinic acid) CH2OH OO OH HO HO OH O HO O HO CH3 OH OH O OH O OO OH OH echinacoside Necine ring pyrrolizidine alkaloids : H3C O H 7 7a 6 5 1 2 3 HO CH 3 O O H CH 3 OH 6 7 5 O H 7a 1 2 3 O H CH3 CH 3 OH O H 6 H CH3 O O H 1 7 5 8 2 3 4 N 4 CH3 N 4 N tussilagine isotussilagine senecionine 1.2-unsaturated necine ring of alkaloids such as senecionine (structure in box) from Senecio species.4E .4E. 20). 130 . and since they lack the 1. O H3C + N H O N H CH3 CH3 CH3 HO O O CH 3 HO H CH3 CH3 HO OH O O H HO 2C H O O chicoric acid CO2H OH OH (2E .WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants are considered to be non-toxic (7.2-unsaturated Dosage forms Powdered roots.4.10 Z )-dodeca2.8.and (2E.8Z . and galenics and preparations thereof for internal use (9). Structures of representative constituents are presented below.2-saturated 1.

increasing respiratory activity. which activates phagocytosis. All ethanolic root extracts increased phagocytosis in vitro (25). 9. and stimulation of interferon production have also been reported after Echinacea treatments (26). High molecular weight polysaccharides. 6. The immunostimulant effect is brought about by three mechanisms: activation of phagocytosis and stimulation of fibroblasts. The overall immunostimulant activity of 131 . stimulation of the activity of the adrenal cortex. derived from roots and aerial parts from the three Echinacea species. 5–7. have also been implicated in the activity of the aqueous extracts and the powdered drug when taken orally. and arabinogalactan. Beneficial effects in the treatment of these infections are generally thought to be brought about by stimulation of the immune response (5. including heteroxylan. 6. caffeic acid derivatives. Chemically standardized extracts. 9. Inhibition of hyaluronidase activity. polyalkenes and polysaccharides (6). The pharmacological activity of Echinacea spp. 21–23). namely the alkylamides. have been assessed for their phagocytotic potential. side-effects of radiation therapy. 11). The lipophilic amides. rheumatoid arthritis. not supported by experimental or clinical data Treatment of yeast infections. Uses described in pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine None. alkamides and caffeic acid derivatives appear to contribute to the immunostimulant activity of the alcoholic Echinacea extracts by stimulating phagocytosis of polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes (5. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have documented the activation of an immune response after treatment with Radix Echinaceae extracts. 23. and causing increased mobility of the leukocytes (5. 11. which promotes the release of tumour necrosis factor and the production of interleukin-1 and interferon beta (24. Uses described in folk medicine. and food poisoning (1. 10). polyalkynes. 9. Pharmacology Experimental pharmacology Current claims for the effectiveness of Radix Echinaceae as a stimulator of the immune system are based on over 350 scientific studies in the past 50 years.Radix Echinaceae Medicinal uses Uses supported by clinical data Preparations of Radix Echinaceae are administered orally in supportive therapy for colds and infections of the respiratory and urinary tract (1. 26). stimulation of the production of properdin (a serum protein which can neutralize bacteria and viruses). 24). 27). 9. has been attributed to five component fractions in addition to the essential oil. 5.

appear to be involved in this mechanism (29). 27).8 days for bacterial infections. Echinacea extracts have anti-inflammatory activity. Clinical pharmacology One placebo-controlled clinical study of 160 patients with infections of the upper respiratory tract has been performed (34). Inhibition of tissue and bacterial hyaluronidase is thought to localize the infection and prevent the spread of causative agents to other parts of the body. Topical application of a crude polysaccharide extract from E. Contraindications External use Allergy to plants in the Asteraceae. and stimulation of both blood. collagenosis.WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants the alcoholic and aqueous Echinacea extracts appears to depend on the combined effects of several constituents (5. 9. angustifolia has been reported to reduce inflammation in the rat paw oedema model (32.1 days for viral infections (34). 33). and from 12. 132 .9 to 9. leukosis. Stimulation of new tissue production by increasing the activity of fibroblasts. multiple sclerosis. AIDS. Significant improvement was observed after patients were treated with an aqueous-alcoholic tincture (1 : 5) at 90 drops/day (900 mg roots). Echinacea preparations should not be administered to people with a known allergy to any plant of the Asteraceae (1). HIV infection and autoimmune disorders. Internal use Should not be used in serious conditions such as tuberculosis. Warnings None. In addition to the direct antihyaluronidase activity. 30). Echinacea extracts inhibit streptococcal and tissue hyaluronidase (28). The duration of the illness decreased from 13 to 9. Precautions General Internal use should not exceed a period of 8 successive weeks (1). an indirect effect on the hyaluronic acid– hyaluronidase system has been reported (29. Parenteral administration is rarely indicated owing to potential adverse side-effects (see Adverse reactions). An alkylamide fraction from Echinacea roots markedly inhibited activity in vitro in the 5-lipoxygenase model (porcine leukocytes) (31).and tissue-produced phagocytosis.

passed through a strainer. 45% ethanol). Therefore. 35). corresponding to 900 mg of root (9). 9. Internal use Allergic reactions. drug and laboratory test interactions. and taken orally three times a day between meals (7). Adverse reactions External use Allergic reactions. pallida root Unless otherwise prescribed: daily dose. except on the advice of a physician. E. administration of Radix Echinaceae during pregnancy is not generally recommended (1). 133 .Radix Echinaceae Carcinogenesis. 45% ethanol). nursing mothers should not take Radix Echinaceae without consulting a physician (1). Liquid extract (1 : 5. Other precautions No information was available concerning drug interactions. 2–5 ml three times daily (7). impairment of fertility Mutagenicity and carcinogenicity tests were negative (5. Therefore. angustifolia root Unless otherwise prescribed. Pregnancy: teratogenic effects There are no reliable studies on this subject. shivering. 0. tincture (1 : 5 with 50% ethanol by volume) from original dry extract (50% ethanol). Tincture (1 : 5. mutagenesis. allowed to steep for 10 minutes. and non-teratogenic effects on pregnancy. Posology E. fever. Doses up to a polysaccharide concentration of 500 µg/ml caused no increase in sister chromatid exchange or structural chromosome aberrations (35).5–1 ml three times daily (7). Nursing mothers There are no reliable studies on this subject. Paediatric use Oral administration of Echinacea preparations is not recommended for children. and headache. hot water (about 150 ml) is poured over about 0.5 teaspoon (about 1 g) of powdered plant material.

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