by Michael Tierra R.H., L.Ac, O.M.D., A.H.G.
To determine the efficacy based on a three day trial period for the use of Echinacea Full Spectrum Herb Extract, manufactured and distributed by Planetary Herbals for the treatment of bacterial infections, especially staphylococcus and streptococcus infections and antibiotic resistant infections such Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
MRSA is described by the Mayo clinic as ‘Staph infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.’
I’ve personally treated a variety of infections using echinacea since 1970. At that time, the herb was hardly in use. I was initially given the 8 ounce dregs of the dried root of echinacea by Nathan Pothurst who was the owner and pharmacist of the last herbal pharmacy operating in the North America. From that I developed a protocol of initial small frequent dosage for the first three days followed by continued dosage of two or three times daily for approximately 10 days after. From the beginning, I noticed an unusual favorable result of curing a wide range of infections. Since that time I formulated a commercial line of echinacea products which I and countless other herbalists have reported extremely positive results without any adverse reactions being reported.
Based on the above, I recommend the use of Planetary Herbals Echinacea Full Spectrum Herb Extract. Echinacea has a long history of use for all infections, first by Native Americans who widely used it for coughs, dyspepsia, venereal disease, toothache, saddle sores on horses and various inflammatory conditions. It was later incorporated and widely prescribed by the 19th and early 20th century Eclectic physicians. The 1880 edition of King’s American Dispensatory described the typical use of echinacea for a variety of infections including malarial infections, venomous spider, wasp, bee and snake bites, boils, carbuncles, eczema, various fevers, nasal and pharyngeal catarrh, ulcerated sore throat and typhoid.
To date, no individual compounds isolated from E. purpurea have been reported to display the same level of apparent immunostimulatory effects as the whole plant extract (Bauer 1999b, 2000; Schug and Blume 2000). However, alkamides, caffeic acid derivatives, polysaccharides, and glycoproteins are all thought to contribute to the bioactivity of the root (Bauer 1999b; Clifford et al. 2002; Perry et al. 1997; Sloley et al. 2001).
Studies have suggested that cichoric acid, depending on the kind of preparation under study. (Grafe and Veit 1999; Nusslein et al., 2000). Although alkamides are, by their chemical structures, more likely to be absorbed intact through the gut wall than are caffeic acid derivatives, polysaccharides, and glycoproteins, this does not necessarily indicate that they possess direct pharmacological or immunological activity. Instead, it is possible that activation could occur through receptors in the gut, with immunological effects mediated through secondary mechanisms, although there is no evidence that this occurs.
Jager et al. (2002) working with Bauer have reported the presence of echinacea isobutylamide across a layer of colon-derived epithelium and inducing a human response. Research also indicates that certain isobutylamides are rapidly absorbed, most likely through the oral mucosa and are found in the blood within 15 minutes of oral administration (Bauer 2004, personal communication).
The bioavailability of orally consumed polysaccharides from E. purpurea root is still in dispute. Polysaccharides tend to be broken down to simple sugars during digestion or in the large intestine by bacterial action. It is possible that the polysaccharides in liquid dosage form may activate immune cells in the larynx and tonsils before they are broken down in the gut (Wagner 2003, personal communication).
Clinical Efficacy and Pharmacodynamics
Early studies confirmed phagocyte-stimulating, hyaluronidase-inhibiting and properdin-generating activities (Bauer 1998; Bauer and Wagner 1991). Human clinical studies have been somewhat equivocal because they tended to focus on upper respiratory infections (colds and flus), which is not the primary traditional use for the herb. The traditional use was mostly for venomous bites and stings and for various infections and inflammations typically staphylococcus or strep infections for which there are no current studies. The reasons for this, I believe, were mainly economic because the research and studies were funded by a German manufacturer of echinacea and would logically find a much wider market using their product to treat more common upper respiratory infections as opposed to its use as an alternative to conventional medical antibiotics. In any case, the research did substantiate a significant increase in white blood phagocytic activity.
The promise of Echinacea extract for treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains lies in the fact that it utilizes novel pathways of treatment. Rather than directly killing bacteria, echinacea strengthens the body’s innate resistance and, if indeed the hyaluronidase enzyme inhibiting action is a factor, inhibits the proliferation of bacteria by increasing phagocytic activity.
Over the course of 35 years I have personally attended to, witnessed, experienced and have had reliable reports of the relatively fast-acting efficacy of echinacea, ranging from a wide range of bacterial infections, mostly external, but many internal as well to serious septicemic infections and even early-stage gangrenous conditions that had previously proved themselves resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment.
Thus far, I cannot say that echinacea has any marked antiviral or anticancer effects as some may claim, though it may have some benefit for external fungal infections.
Based upon available research and numerous critical reviews, this botanical appears to be relatively safe. There have been several reports of minor allergic reactions but no reported deaths.
For treatment, I currently rely on Planetary’s Herbals’, Full Spectrum Echinacea, which combines freshly harvested whole Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea pallida roots with the fresh roots, fresh leaf juice and seeds of cultivated Echinacea purpurea, capturing a complete range of echinacea constituents.
This product only uses wildcrafted Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea pallida roots and organically grown Echinacea purpurea seed, root and leaf, which is extracted in a menstrum of purified water and grain alcohol (50%).
Treating antibiotic conditions such as MRSA are serious and the following treatment protocol should be strictly followed for three days. If no significant improvement is observed within this time, patients should immediately consult a medical doctor.
- Take 60 to 70 drops of echinacea tincture every two waking hours for the successive duration of three days. Because of the efficacy and safety of echinacea, and for particularly serious conditions, I have recommended that the first initial dosage might be as much as 30 drops every 15-30 minutes over the first 2 or 3 hours.
- Moisten a sterile cloth, absorbent bandage or cotton with the echinacea extract and carefully tape over the affected area (s). Change this each morning and evening before retiring.
- Eat simply, avoiding heavy rich foods and drinks or anything with sugar. Eat a bland diet of rice, beans, cereal, steamed vegetables, soups ‘“ moderate amount of meat, chicken or eggs is also fine. Be sure to include some protein in all meals.
- If the condition has shown a positive response, continue taking the echinacea only three times daily and the external application used on an ‘˜as needed’ basis for another 10 days.
Usually after the first day one will experience a significant reduction in pain, swelling and inflammation. If there is no improvement by the end of the third day, you should seek immediately qualified health care.
 King’s American Dispensatory, republished by the Eclectic institute and online at http://www.henriettesherbal.com/
[i] All the scientific information in this paper is copied or extrapolated from the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium 2004 monograph on Echinacea purpurea root edited by Roy Upton, herbalist. These are the most authoritative sources for herbs published in North America. All the information in these monographs are subject to critical medical review by a number of scientific experts in the field, making them the most ideal source for reference.