Echinacea pupurea is a perennial herb of the Compositae family, native to the central and eastern United States and southern Canada. It has outstanding anti-infection, anti-inflammation and immune promotion effects, can enhance the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infection by stimulating the body’s immune system, is widely used as a natural antibiotic, is a world-famous “immune” herbal medicine. It has been introduced and cultivated in Europe, New Zealand and Australia, and has become one of the most popular medicinal plants in the international market.

The active ingredient of Echinacea extract

There are eight species and several varieties of Echinacea. The species has been used for medical applications are Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea augustifolia, and Echinacen pallida. Compared with Echinacea augustifolia, and Echinacen pallida, Echinacea purpurea roots contain verbascoside, but not the Caffeic acid derivative Echinacoside. Echinacea augustifolia and Echinacen pallida contains more content of echinacoside, what’s more, Echinacea augustifolia root contains mainly caffeyl quinic acid (cynarin).

Echinacea extracts (derived from whole herbs) are marketed as supplements, pills, tinctures, capsules, additives, etc. There are currently about 300 echinacea or its polypill in clinical use worldwide. The main medicinal parts of Echinacea are roots and stems. Studies have shown that parenchyma cells are the distribution and storage sites of polyphenolic compounds in the medicinal parts of Echinacea, and polyphenolic compounds are mainly distributed in the cortex and phloem in the root, where special secretory tract exists, which is the main site for the synthesis and storage of volatile oil.

Caffeic acid derivatives are found in the ethanolic extracts of Echinacea and its roots. Echinacea root contains 0.6%, 2.1% caffeicacid derivatives, which mainly include cichoricacid, caftaric acid, caffeicacid, and chlorogenic acid. And caffeyl quinic acid (Cynarin), Echinacoside and alkyl groups, which play an important role in promoting phagocytosis.

The content of chicory acid in fresh Echinacea chrysanthemi and roots was 1.2% ~ 3.1% and 0.6% ~ 2.1%, respectively, but the content in leaves and stems was low. The results showed that the root of Echinacea contained 0.01% 0.04% amino alcohols, mainly 0.004% ~ 0.0395% cm alkyl amides. The content of alkylamide varies with the growth cycle of Echinacea. Generally, the content of the aboveground part decreases gradually with the growth of the plant, while the content of the root increases gradually with the growth of the plant. In addition, echinacea root also contains polyalkyne derivatives, polysaccharides (fructans), glycoproteins (64% ~ 84% of the dominant sugars are arabinose, 1.9% ~ 5.3% galactose, 6% glucosamine), more than 0.2% volatile oil (such as syringene, ophirene, syringene epoxide).

Benefits of Echinacea used as a veterinary drug

  • Strong immunity booster

Native to the Americas, echinacea is a traditional Indian herb that has been used for hundreds of years to treat wounds, snakebites, headaches and colds. The main medicinal parts of Echinacea are underground parts (roots, rhizome), stems or above-ground parts, which mainly contain polysaccharides, caffeic acid derivatives, volatile oil, polyalkyne, alkyl amides and flavonoids and other components. It is a good immunomodulator and immune stimulant and can treat cold, inflammation, rheumatic diseases and sore throat. So far, it is one of the very few plant drugs found in the world with both immunity-enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects. It has a wide range of treatments and stable curative effects.

The results showed that the ethanolic extract of Echinacea root had a certain promotion effect on the phagocytosis of granulocytes. At the concentration of 1.oxlo mg/mL, the phagocytosis of granulocytes was 33% higher than that of the control group, showing a variety of immunomodulatory effects in vitro. Studies have shown that chicory acid has the activity of stimulating phagocytosis, inhibiting translucidase, and protecting collagen egg white from free radicals that can lead to degradation. The results showed that echinacea could increase the neutrophil capacity and the number of peripheral lymphocyte, and stimulate the immune activity of horses. Feeding Echinacea as a feed additive to chickens can significantly increase chicken body weight and reduce coccidia infection. Sadigh et al., by orally administering echinacea to mice, significantly enhanced the egg white, WBC, neutrophil and monocyte counts and immune activity. In addition, Echinacea could induce cytochrome P4503A activity.

The glycoproteins such as arabinose and galactan contained in Echinacea root can stimulate phagocytosis of macrophages in a dose-dependent manner, and also stimulate activated macrophages to secrete B2 interference. These macromolecular polysaccharides shows strong immune-stimulating effects, which can stimulate the proliferation of mononuclear lymphocytes and the activity of macrophages, and make macrophages release tumor bad death factor (TNF), interleukin (IL 1, IL 1 6) and interferon B 1 2(IFN-1 2). The polysaccharide part of Echinacea extract could stimulate phagocytosis of macrophages. Stimulate T lymphocyte proliferation; Hemolytic plaque test shows that it can significantly increase the number of plaque, thus can significantly enhance humoral immune function; VSV infection test showed that it had a weak interferon-like effect and could inhibit virus growth. Mice experiments showed that Echinacea root extract could significantly increase the number of NK cells and monocytes in normal male rats. Echinacea polysaccharide can stimulate the proliferation of B lymphocyte and enhance the humoral immunity of mice.

  • Excellent anti-inflammatory properties

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, echinacea has been used to help prevent upper respiratory diseases (flu, etc.), skin diseases (acne, boils, hemorrhoids and wounds), allergic diseases (asthma), and sore throats. Its unique medical properties have also led to it being used for animal health and nutrition.

Studies have shown that the Echinacea polysaccharide also has the effect of antifungal, such as epidermal tinea digitorum, Candida, etc., Echinacea root extract (1:1000) can completely inhibit the growth of echinacea epidermal tinea digitorum, the polysaccharide of echinacea root has the inhibitory effect on Candida infection. WageI(1981)

Echinacea root contains a large amount (0.004% 0.0395%) of polyunsaturated isobutyl amide, which is a local anesthetic and has an immunomodulatory function. It can prevent inflammation caused by pathogens and show strong anti-inflammatory activity, which can be used to prevent bacterial infections. Echinacea root contains high molecular weight polysaccharides such as arabinose and galactan, which can stimulate macrophages and exert anti-inflammatory activity. It has been reported that Echinacea extract has different degrees of inhibitory effects on Staphylococcus aureus, group B Streptococcus, Klebsiella and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The clinical antibacterial effect and mechanism of action may be related to its immune stimulatory activity. In addition, Echinacea extract can inhibit the proliferation of parasites in vivo and has a good control effect on the inflammation caused by parasitic infection. Echinacea root also contains volatile oils, such as helminth, borneol and vanillin, which have the effect of repellent insects.

In conclusion, Echinacea herb is rich in active ingredients such as Chicoric Acid, mono-caffeyl tartaric acid, volatile oil and polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune-enhancing pharmacological effects. It can be used as a substitute for synthetic antibiotics and has broad application prospects in livestock and poultry breeding and treatment.

Ye Tao