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A.Vogel Echinaforce® and Coronaviruses – What Do We Know Thus Far? (Updated!)

The evidence builds up…

A.Vogel Echinaforce® is the most researched Echinacea product worldwide with more than 20 published pre-clinical and clinical papers in reputable medical journals since 1994. The creator of Echinaforce®, Swiss Naturopath Dr Alfred Vogel, discovered through years of careful observation and experimentation in his own practice that freshly produced Echinacea purpurea in the unique ratio of 95% upper, green parts and 5% roots produced the best results and immune supportive effect in his patients suffering from a wide variety of infectious conditions. In the years since Echinaforce® became commercially produced, science has proven Dr Vogel’s formulation and his keen observation skills right time and time again.

Thanks to extensive research efforts over the years, scientific studies now confirm that Echinaforce® is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and is a powerful immune modulator. Clinical trials confirm that Echinaforce® is effective for the prevention and treatment of colds, flu, and respiratory tract infections, improving resistance against them (especially in the most vulnerable) and preventing the complications they often lead to such as sinusitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis and even pneumonia in both adults and children. Echinaforce® is also one of the few immune support products which have been tested and proven effective in children, which is important because their immune systems are particularly vulnerable compared to adults, and we can’t assume results from adult trials will be applicable to children. Given all the Echinaforce® trials which have been done on both adults and children, we also have gathered extensive safety and tolerability data which confirms that Echinaforce® is safe, well tolerated (very few side effects) and suitable for long term use.

Echinaforce® – a potent antiviral, even against coronaviruses

One of the key areas of research into Echinaforce® thus far has been into its antiviral action. There is extensive research which confirms the antiviral effects of Echinaforce®, including major respiratory viruses such as various strains of influenza A & B, parainfluenza, RSV, herpes simplex virus and rhinovirus. Researchers confirm this antiviral action seems particularly strong against the group of viruses know as membranous/enveloped viruses. Echinaforce®’s antiviral action against this group of viruses has been confirmed in both lab studies and human trials. This is important because it just so happens that the coronavirus family too falls in this group of membranous/enveloped viruses.

Scientists at the notorious Spies laboratory in Switzerland have now confirmed that Echinaforce® is strongly virucidal against a variety of coronaviruses in vitro including SARS, MERS, the common cold corona virus and most importantly the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and published these findings in the prestigious Virology Journal. What is even more interesting is the amount of Echinaforce® needed to inactivate these viruses is 100 times less than the amount contained in a single Echinaforce® tablet. What is important is that direct contact with the virus is needed for this virucidal action. Although yet to be proven in human trials, it is thus possible that, since coronaviruses gather and replicate in the back of the throat before infecting the lower airways, gargling with Echinaforce® drops or sucking a tablet may provide this virucidal action. The in vitro virucidal action against SARS-CoV-2 has since been further investigated and confirmed to be applicable to all the variants of SARS-CoV-2 including the Omicron variant, all of which are highly susceptible to direct contact with Echinaforce®.

Thanks to scientists at the University of Antwerp, we also know that the immune supportive effect of Echinaforce® can be partly explained by its ability to promote immune system readiness, and if infection occurs, it supports an early and robust antiviral defence and mobilisation of immune cells. One of the ways it does this is by promoting an antiviral substance called interferon. Scientists think that a weakened interferon response could explain why some coronavirus infections are so much more severe than others.

Any evidence of Echinaforce® against coronavirus in human studies?

Yes, finally, the first published evidence on Echinaforce® for the prevention and treatment of coronavirus infections (including SARS-CoV-2) in humans was published in April 2022 in Frontiers of Pharmacology Journal.

Prior to this new publication we knew that children who took Echinaforce® Junior preventatively had significantly milder (64% milder) coronavirus colds (caused by one of the common cold coronaviruses) and 98% lower viral loads, i.e. 98% less virus present in the body.

The latest study however, measured the effect of Echinaforce® in preventing and treating respiratory infections including SARS-CoV-2 over a period of 5 months. The study confirmed that used preventatively, Echinaforce® reduced the risk of all RTIs, but most interestingly, it reduced the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection by 63% (known as a relative risk reduction). In those who did get a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, treatment with Echinaforce® for 10 days reduced their viral loads by 99% compared to untreated participants and, they were PCR negative almost five days earlier than those not treated with Echinaforce®.

So, what is the practical relevance of this research?

Firstly, laboratory research confirms that when coronaviruses make direct contact with Echinaforce® they are destroyed, even by very low concentrations thereof. Simply gargling with the liquid or sucking the tablets (as done in the latest trial) could explain some of the protective effects observed.

Research including the latest clinical trial suggest that over and above standard precautionary measures, taking Echinaforce® preventatively may offer an additional protective effect against coronavirus infection and, if one does occur, treatment with Echinaforce® seems to substantially reduce the viral load. Typically this would mean a milder infection and importantly a lesser likelihood of spreading it to others. More research is needed to make conclusions, however, the latest research further adds to the existing evidence of Echinaforce® for the prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections.

Disclaimer

This article is intended for educational purposes only and simply summarises the findings of research which is freely available in the public domain. Although preliminary published data now exists, the full potential of Echinaforce® on the prevention and/or treatment of coronavirus including SARS-CoV-2 from human trials is yet to be fully determined. In the interim no conclusive claim whatsoever of such action is made or inferred nor has such been approved or endorsed by the SAHPRA. For more information on the status of the pandemic and necessary preventative measures needed please visit: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/

Note: Article initially published on 13th December 2021 and subsequently updated 5 July 2022.

This article originally appeared on Living Naturally and can be found here.

References and additional reading:

  • Declerck, K., et al., Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench treatment of monocytes promotes tonic interferon signaling, increased innate immunity gene expression and DNA repeat hypermethylated silencing of endogenous retroviral sequences. BMC Complement Med Ther, 2021. 21(1): p. 141. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03310-5
  • Kolev, E., et al., Echinacea Purpurea For the Long-Term Prevention of Viral Respiratory Tract Infections During Covid-19 Pandemic: A Randomized, Open, Controlled, Exploratory Clinical Study. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 2022. 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.856410
  • Nicolussi, S., et al., Echinacea as a Potential Force against Coronavirus Infections? A Mini-Review of Randomized Controlled Trials in Adults and Children. Microorganisms, 2022. 10(2): p. 211. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10020211
  • Ogal, M., et al., Echinacea reduces antibiotic usage in children through respiratory tract infection prevention: a randomized, blinded, controlled clinical trial. Eur J Med Res, 2021. 26(1): p. 33. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40001-021-00499-6
  • Pleschka, S., et al., Anti-viral properties and mode of action of standardized Echinacea purpurea extract against highly pathogenic avian Influenza virus (H5N1, H7N7) and swine-origin H1N1 (S-OIV). 2009. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1743-422X-6-197
  • Schapowal, A., The Triple Action of the Herbal Medicine Echinaforce® in the Treatment of Colds and Flu-Like Infections. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Ganzheitsmedizin / Swiss Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2011. 23(1): p. 40-44. https://doi.org/10.1159/000323357
  • Schapowal, A., Use of Echinaforce to Prevent Coronavirus Infections EC Microbiology Special Issue. 2020. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340917336_Use_of_Echinaforce_to_Prevent_Coronavirus_Infections_EC_Microbiology_Special_Issue_-2020
  • Signer, J., et al., In vitro virucidal activity of Echinaforce®, an Echinacea purpurea preparation, against coronaviruses, including common cold coronavirus 229E and SARS-CoV-2. Virology Journal, 2020. 17(1): p. 136. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-020-01401-2
  • Vimalanathan, S., et al., Prevention of influenza virus induced bacterial superinfection by standardized Echinacea purpurea, via regulation of surface receptor expression in human bronchial epithelial cells. Virus Research, 2017. 233(Supplement C): p. 51-59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2017.03.006